Official: Ukraine needs legal base to deploy its anti-chemical forces near Iraq

Ukraine needs to solve a web of legal and organizational problems to make good on its offer to send an anti-chemical weapons unit to the region around Iraq, a top official said Thursday.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma offered to contribute Ukraine’s forces to help defuse chemical or biological weapons that Baghdad might use in a potential war. But Yevhen Marchuk, the secretary of the presidential security council, said Thursday that Ukrainian soldiers could be deployed only if some country in the region formally invites them, the Interfax news agency reported. No country has so far offered to accept the force. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry is also holding consultations to determine the international security guarantees for the battalion in case it is sent to the region, Marchuk added. He said the battalion’s soldiers would go to the region only on a volunteer basis. Those who are willing to go have to be inoculated, but Ukraine lacks funds for buying the necessary vaccines, Marchuk said. Marchuk dismissed criticism of Kuchma’s move by some media and anti-war activists, saying the government had no intention of sending the force to Iraq and supports the peaceful solution to the crisis. The offer “shows Ukraine’s readiness to take an active part in solving international security problems,” Marchuk said, according to Interfax. Full Story

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