Kravchuk Shifts on Air Strikes

KIEV -- President Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine, in an apparent shift of policy, said Thursday that the horror of war in Bosnia had left no alternative to launching U.N.-sanctioned air strikes against Serb positions.

Kravchuk said any decision to undertake strikes required U.N. approval.

"But I accept that there is no other solution. People are dying, blood is being spilled. When children die, your hair stands on end. So much destruction has been caused," he told reporters at an exhibition.

"If there is no other way to stop these senseless acts, then measures must be taken as required by the situation."

Kravchuk's comments contrasted with those by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoly Zlenko, who has opposed air strikes, as they would endanger Ukraine's 420-strong peacekeeping force in Bosnia.He said the issue should go to the U.N. Security Council.

Prior to Kravchuk's statement, Ukraine's opposition to air strikes had largely coincided with Russian policy -- but for broadly different reasons.

Russia is a traditional ally of the Christian Orthodox Serbs and has long opposed the strikes.

Kiev has no such traditional links and is viewed by all sides in Bosnia as an ideal intermediary -- not least because of a large Ukrainian minority in Yugoslavia and the presence of big Catholic and Orthodox communities in Ukraine.