Ukraine: lawmakers to probe weapons to Georgia
The Associated Press
Published: September 2, 2008
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KIEV, Ukraine: Ukrainian lawmakers voted Tuesday to form a panel to investigate their country's weapons supplies to Georgia following Russia's war with that nation last month.
Ukraine has been a major supplier of weapons to its ally Georgia, whom it backed firmly in the conflict. Ukrainian military officials say the arms supplies are perfectly lawful and will not be halted.
But Valeriy Konovalyuk, a lawmaker from the opposition Party of Regions, which has ties to Moscow, told the legislature Tuesday that he believes Ukraine was engaged in "illegal weapons supplies." He did not elaborate.
The legislature voted to set up a panel to look into the claims.
Last month's military conflict between Georgia and Russia, which ended with Russian troops pushing deep into Georgia and Moscow's recognition of two Georgian breakaway provinces' independence, has deeply divided Ukrainian politicians and the public.
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Pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko has firmly backed his Georgian counterpart Mikhail Saakashvili and condemned Moscow's actions. Both leaders seek to make their countries NATO members and shed Russia's influence — steps that have angered Moscow. But the opposition Party of Regions, which has ties to Moscow, and the Communists have swung their support behind the Kremlin.
Parliament debated all day Tuesday, but failed to pass a resolution on the conflict, as the president had asked them to.
The issue is especially contentious since many here worry that Ukraine, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based, could be Russia's next target.
Analysts say that a war between Russia and Ukraine is highly unlikely. While Georgia is a small nation of 4.6 million people, Ukraine is roughly the size of France, with a population of 46 million.
Russia also relies on Ukraine for transporting its natural gas to European consumers, and it is Ukraine's energy supplier and top trading partner. But Ukraine is likely to come under immense economic and diplomatic pressure from Moscow to give up its NATO aspirations.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband was here recently to offer support, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to visit soon.
Orignal article posted here.