Tuesday, October 19, 2004
First Poland, Now Ukraine To Pull Out Of Iraq
World Crisis Web
Tuesday, October 19th, 2004
In a statement made today, Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko has promised to withdraw Ukrainian troops from Iraq in the event that he wins the forthcoming election, leaving an ever-diminishing alliance of countries presently occupying Iraq.
The promise of the pro-Western former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, tipped to win the forthcoming elections in Ukraine on October 31st, comes on the heels of the decision earlier this week by the Polish Prime Minister, Marek Belka, to begin withdrawing Poland’s 2,400 contingent in January 2005, and not to remain there “an hour longer than is sensible.”
Nine Ukrainian soldiers have died so far during the occupation.
The participation of the estimated 1,600 Ukrainian troops in the USA-led occupation of Iraq has been a subject of heated controversy in the former Soviet republic, with the Komunistycna Partija Ukrajiny - the reformed communist party with 20% support in the country - and other smaller parties having long campaigned against Ukraine’s participation.
Yushchenko promised his supporters a controlled pull-out, geared to gain widespread support from across the political spectrum:
“Our troops will leave Iraq calmly and without haste. The withdrawal process will be controllable and enjoy comprehensive support,” Yushchenko said in the statement, posted on his personal website.
Meanwhile, Georgy Kryuchkov, chairman of the Ukraine parliament’s committee for national security, predicted earlier this week that Ukrainian troops will be withdrawn from Iraq irrespective of the results of his country’s presidential elections.
Kryuchkov said that the new parliament would be debating three draft laws on the pull-out. One of them proposes the immediate recall of all Ukrainian military personnel from Iraq, and the other two focus to varying degrees on a gradual reduction of Ukrainian troops.
Speaking to reporters, Kryuchkov said that either way “it is necessary to work out a new form of Ukraine’s presence in Iraq”, and raised the possibility of Ukraine providing help with economic reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.