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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Non-Nuclear Ukraine Needs Russia's Fuel, Kuchma Says

WASHINGTON -- Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma has said his country would become a non-nuclear state as promised this summer, but pressed Russia to provide fuel for Ukraine's atomic power plants.


"I have got no reasons not to meet the commitments ... We shall be carrying out everything according to the signed schedule," Kuchma told reporters Wednesday at a Pentagon news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry.


Perry said Ukraine was on schedule to ship the last of some 1,900 warheads from former Soviet missiles back to Russia in June under a trilateral agreement made two years ago with Moscow and Washington.


But Kuchma, who also held talks Wednesday with U.S. President Bill Clinton, said he had raised the issue of atomic fuel from Russia with Vice President Al Gore.


"We have voluntarily given up our tactical weapons and we were supposed to be repaid with the fuel which could be sufficient for running our atomic power plants for seven years. But Russia does not repay us with this," he said.


U.S. officials said Kuchma told U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher at a State Department lunch that there would be a limit to Ukraine's involvement in the Commonwealth of Independent States -- successor to the Soviet Union.


Ukraine on Wednesday also signed an agreement with the United States allowing it to enter the commercial satellite-launch market but obliging it to offer prices close to those of U.S. companies, the White House said in a statement.


The accord, which was signed by Kuchma and Gore and expires at the end of 2001, permits Ukraine to provide up to five geosynchronous earth orbit launches for any commercial customer.