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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Vows To Become Non-Nuclear

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Nebraska -- Ukraine has begun dismantling its nuclear arsenal and is on the way to becoming a non-nuclear country, according to the chief of the Ukrainian armed forces.

General Colonel Anatoly Lopata, who also serves as the Ukrainian first deputy minister of defense, made his remarks during a visit to the U.S. Strategic Command south of Omaha. StratCom oversees all U.S. nuclear weapons.

Lopata's first visit to the United States was part of a week-long trip designed to build relations between the two countries.

Lopata, 54, speaking through an interpreter, said Ukraine has sent three shipments of nuclear warheads to Russia to be dismantled. He spoke briefly to a small group of reporters and military personnel after he arrived at Offutt Air Force Base.

"The decision has been made," Lopata said. "We're on the road to non-nuclear status and will dismantle all" the weapons.

Nuclear weapons are being dismantled under an agreement signed by Russia, the United States and Ukraine in January this year.

StratCom Commander Admiral Henry Chiles Jr. introduced and escorted Lopata around the base. Lopata, who arrived in New York on Sunday and visited the U.S. Military Academy at West Point earlier Tuesday, said he has enjoyed talking with U.S. military officers.

U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry visited Ukraine in March.

Lopata also plans to visit U.S. Atlantic Command in Norfolk,Virginia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and to meet with Perry and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General John Shalikashvili in Washington.