GEORGIA, UKRAINE TO FORM JOINT PEACEKEEPING UNIT. Meeting in Tbilisi on 29 October, Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze and his Ukrainian counterpart, Aleksandr Kuzmuk, agreed to create a joint peacekeeping battalion, CAUCASUS PRESS reported. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who is also on an official visit to Tbilisi, told journalists that the peacekeepers' primary task will be to safeguard transportation routes through Abkhazia, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 30 October. The two defense ministers also signed a protocol on developing military-technical cooperation. ITARTASS reported that Ukraine intends to purchase an unspecified number of modernized Su-25 military aircraft from Georgia.
TURKMENISTAN, UKRAINE TRY TO RESOLVE GAS DEBTS. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Holubchenko is in Ashgabat for talks with his Turkmen counterpart, Rejep Saparov, on resuming Turkmen natural gas exports to Ukraine, RFE/RL's Ashgabat bureau reported on 30 October. The two deputy ministers are also trying to determine exactly how much Ukraine owes for gas received in 1996-1997. Turkmenistan cut gas supplies to Ukraine in March 1997 because of Kyiv's failure to pay. A spokesman for the Itera company, which acted as an intermediary to export and sell Turkmen gas to Ukraine, said a large share of that debt, which is believed to exceed $300 million, would be settled by means of barter trade.
KARADZIC'S WIFE SAYS SFOR IS STALKING HER. Liljana ZelenKaradzic told the Belgrade daily "Vecernje Novosti" of 29 October that NATO peacekeepers have recently begun following her as she goes about her daily activities. She called their alleged actions an invasion of privacy. Meanwhile, a spokesman for SFOR said in Mostar the previous day that SFOR military police have arrested seven peacekeepers suspected of smuggling cigarettes and alcohol. News agencies identified the men as Ukrainians whose activities had attracted the attention of local Croatian police.