- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

Prospects for U.S.-Ukrainian relations have improved markedly in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh said in an interview yesterday.

While condemning the attacks as a "crime against all mankind," Mr. Kinakh said that cooperation between Washington and Kiev in the fight against international terrorism in the weeks since the tragedy has "opened up wider opportunities for cooperation" in security and economic policy.

"The confidence that is built up between nations and officials from working together in such a crisis can be priceless," said Mr. Kinakh, who was concluding a three-day visit to New York and Washington.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, in power since 1994, has had a rocky relationship with the United States, dogged by charges of corruption, authoritarianism and slowing political and economic reforms at home.

But Ukraine quickly offered U.S. military planes overflight rights last month as part of the war on global terrorism, and also agreed to share intelligence on terrorist networks with U.S. officials. Mr. Kinakh discussed with Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill on Tuesday efforts to curb money laundering. The prime minister also said yesterday that Ukraine is considering offering its railroad network for cargo shipments to aid the war in Afghanistan.

The most populous of the new states that broke away from Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine's strategic location and economic potential have long made it a bellwether among the former Soviet states.

But Ukraine has consistently disappointed its Western partisans with the slow pace of economic reforms at home and an erratic foreign policy that veered uneasily between closer ties to the West and renewed links to Moscow. But Mr. Kinakh's visit here, his first trip to Washington since taking office in May, comes at an unusually auspicious time.

Russian-U.S. relations are the warmest they have been in years, the product of Russian President Vladimir Putin's staunch support of the Bush administration's anti-terror efforts. That, in turn, has eased the tug-of-war over Ukraine. "We welcome better relations between Moscow and Washington. It can only be good for us," said Mr. Kinakh.

He said Kiev supported the proposed expansion of both the European Union and NATO, even though Ukraine is not a candidate for membership in either in the next enlargement round.

He also said yesterday that his government will press ahead with market and tax reforms, aiming to qualify for membership to the World Trade Organization, and aiming to be granted trade privileges in the United States as a market economy.

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