RUSSIA NOT TO BUY BOMBERS STATIONED IN UKRAINE. Deinekin also confirmed on 18 June that Russia has no plans to buy some 45 strategic bombers stationed in Ukraine, Interfax reported. He said Russia had "begged" Ukraine years ago to agree to transfer the Tu-160 and Tu-95 MS aircraft, noting that the two sides had not been able to agree on terms. Now the bombers are in "extremely poor condition," Deinikin added, making their purchase undesirable. Deinekin also said Russia is developing a new long-range bomber, to be introduced sometime after 2005.

MINERS' STRIKE CONTINUES IN UKRAINE. Miners on 18 June protested in Kyiv for the second consecutive day but said they will consider a government offer to begin partial payments on back wages next month. The miners blocked the street outside the government building in Kyiv, until Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko addressed them. Lazarenko said that beginning 1 July, the state will pay out $210 million over six months to cover back wages. The miners had wanted the money paid within three months. The government reportedly owes farmers some $800 million in unpaid wages. Viktor Derzhak, chairman of the Union of Coal Industry workers, told journalists the miners will decide whether to continue their protest after the government proposes a resolution on the issue of back wages.

UKRAINE, TURKEY SIGN OIL PIPELINE AGREEMENT. Turkish Energy Minister Recai Kutan and Anatoly Minchenko, Ukrainian state minister for industry and energy, signed a deal on 18 June to build an oil pipeline from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea through Turkey. The joint venture was signed in Ankara. Kutan told journalists the pipeline will initially carry 40 million tons of crude per year to Ukraine, whose oil demands are increasing. The Turkish state pipeline company Botas will oversee the project. It is unclear when construction of the project will begin.

UKRAINE MAY JOIN MILITARY ALLIANCE. Security and Defense Council Chief, Volodymyr Horbulin, was quoted by Interfax on 18 June as saying Ukraine has not ruled out discarding its pledge of neutrality and joining a military alliance in the future. He added that the partnership pact Ukraine struck with Russia in May does not prevent it from entering any military alliance it chooses. Horbulin also said the Ukrainian government will go ahead with the production of tactical missiles, despite U.S. objections. He said he has sent a letter to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott explaining the decision.