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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

START I Ratification In Doubt in Ukraine

KIEV - A behind-the-scenes row between Russia and Ukraine is threatening to postpone or even scuttle ratification of the five-nation START I nuclear arms reduction treaty.


Negotiators in Kiev have told The Moscow Times that the Kremlin has failed to offer "sufficient assurances" of the former Republic's security to make ratification likely when the parliament discusses the treaty.


Ukraine's leaders have consistently said that the country intends to relinquish the right to nuclear weapons. But since last April they have asked for security guarantees as a quid pro quo.


Both the United States and Britain have given Kiev the required guarantees, anxious to get the landmark treaty implemented, but not Russia.


"There is no movement in talks, and what is being officially presented by Russia is not acceptable", said the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry arms negotiator, Konstantin Grishchenko.


Ukraine has 176 missiles on its territory and is holding up implementation of START I. The other four signatory states - the U. S. , Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan - have all ratified it.


What the Russians have proposed, according to the Ukrainians, are "vague" promises valid provided Ukraine remains a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.


That would bind Ukraine into an organization it considers to be dominated by the Kremlin. "If Ukraine ceases to be a member of the CIS then the guarantees are not there", said Anton Buteiko, foreign affairs adviser to Kravchuk.


The debate in the Ukrainian parliament should take place in two weeks. But if nothing further is ventured by Russia, the treaty risks being further delayed, amended or even rejected.


Although the United States and Britain have not disclosed the contents of the texts of the guarantees they have offered Ukraine, some details have emerged.


There is a reiterated and possibly beefed-up pledge that Ukraine will not be targeted or threatened by weapons of mass destruction.


o They have made a commitment not to use conventional weapons against Ukraine.


o There is a political statement to "fully assist" should Ukraine be threatened by a third party.


o A paragraph recognizes Ukraine's territorial integrity.