`Nationalism and Nukes' in Ukraine

In the Opinion page article "Nationalism and Nukes," Dec. 1, the author brings up the urgent issue of Ukraine's delay in ratifying the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). The author's concern for this delay is understandable, but his attempt to explain the Ukrainian position is off the mark and bears little resemblance to the facts.

Ukraine has not refused to sign the START agreement. It was submitted to the Ukrainian parliament only last summer. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect the Ukrainians to rubber-stamp the treaty without properly studying it.

The director of the Ukrainian military's Center for Strategic Research on Nuclear Weapons, Maj. Gen. Vadim Grechaninov, says Ukraine is willing to give up the uranium used in the nuclear warheads to Russia for only a fraction of its worth, and he predicts that the parliament will ratify the treaty within three months.

Contrary to the author's statement, Ukrainians have not "refused to allow Russians to deactivate Ukrainian missiles." Ukraine has already transferred, ahead of schedule, all of its tactical nuclear weapons to Russia. This is convincing evidence of its commitment to become a nuclear weapon-free state.

The Ukrainians certainly cannot be accused of being infected "by a nationalistic virus." Unlike its neighbors, Ukraine has experienced almost no ethnic unrest. This is largely the result of a government and a political opposition that have made a conscious effort to define Ukrainian citizenship in terms of territoriality and not ethnicity.

We should be concerned about Ukraine's hesitation to sign START and address Ukraine's reservations to get the treaty signed. But alarmist articles like this one do not facilitate this process. Bohdan Pyskir, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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