Ukraine Agrees to Ratify START, for More Money

UKRAINIAN legislators pledged yesterday to ratify the START-1 nuclear disarmament treaty by the end of the year, but demanded far more compensation for giving up nuclear weapons than the United States has offered.

The deputies, speaking after two hours of talks with US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, said they would not approve for the moment other international accords requiring Kiev to give up the weapons for good.

``We will ratify START by the end of the year,'' Dmytro Pavlychko, head of parliament's foreign affairs commission, told Reuters. ``But there is so far no question of ratifying the Lisbon protocols and the [Nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty.''

Ukraine is the last of four former Soviet republics holding nuclear weapons to ratify START-1, after Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Russia is the only one due to retain any warheads left over from the Soviet era.

Under the terms of protocols signed in Lisbon last year by the US, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, Ukraine is to give up 176 strategic missiles still on its territory. But Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and other leaders have suggested it should retain some missiles for a time.

Mr. Christopher's tour through Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is aimed at promoting a US plan to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization through ``partnerships'' with former Warsaw Pact nations, including Russia.

Ukraine wants much of the money to pay for fuel to run the country's five nuclear power plants. Concerns about transferring nuclear arms to Russia have been heightened by the Russian parliament's claim to Ukraine's Black Sea port of Sevastopol in July and last month's hard-line uprising by parliament against President Boris Yeltsin. Georgia Back on Offensive

Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze vowed yesterday to crush opposition in western Georgia and said his troops had recaptured Poti, but Itar-Tass news agency said the rebels still held the vital Black Sea port.

There was no independent word from the area and no news on casualties. The Georgian government said last week that it had recaptured Poti, originally taken by rebels on Oct. 2, but this turned out to be untrue.

On the second front in the struggle for the western part of the Transcaucasian republic, a government commander said forces were ready to push toward Senaki, a rebel-held road and rail junction, after repelling a counterattack on nearby Abasha.

If Senaki falls and Poti has fallen to government forces, the rebels' attempt to overthrow President Shevardnadze would be effectively over for the time being.

The revolt of ousted President Zviad Gamsakhurdia and the fall of the Black Sea town of Sukhumi to separatist Abkhaz rebels in September pushed Georgia to the brink of collapse and forced Shevardnadze to join the Commonwealth of Independent States to enlist Russian support.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, quoted by Interfax news agency, said he had ordered the Defense Ministry to allocate the necessary resources for the policing operation, which includes protecting trains that go through rebel territory.

But so far the Russians have not moved out of their barracks in Georgia.

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