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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Lobbies West for Role In Kosovo Peacekeeping Force




KIEV -- Ukraine's government will take a week to assemble a peacekeeping force and ask parliament to approve its deployment in Kosovo, the defense minister said Wednesday.


The Ukrainian detachment would include a division of bridge-builders, a helicopter squadron, a mobile hospital and peacekeeping troops in a battalion set up jointly by Ukraine and Poland several years ago, Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk said.


The group will be ready by July 1 and the Defense Ministry will then seek approval for its deployment from parliament, Kuzmuk told reporters in Kiev. He did not say how many soldiers the Ukrainian detachment would include, but defense officials have said the former Soviet republic wants to send 1,400 servicemen to Kosovo.


President Leonid Kuchma tried to mediate during NATO's bombing campaign in Yugoslavia but got little attention for his efforts.


Defense officials say Ukraine has taken part in 11 peacekeeping missions since 1992, including operations in the former Yugoslavia, Angola, Tajikistan and Moldova's Trans-Dniester region.


On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk told a NATO conference that Ukraine's exclusion from the peacekeeping effort could be dangerous.


"We are not satisfied with the role given to Ukraine in the pact," he said at the conference in Budapest, Hungary.


"We have the means and experience and have invested in settling the conflict. Besides, we have suffered considerable damages, in particular by the Danube shipping company and metallurgical enterprises in the Ukraine."


Tarasyuk said Ukraine faces a threat from socialist and communist parties that want to unite with Belarus and Russia, and for that reason deserves special consideration from NATO.