UKRAINE REJECTS SMUGGLING CHARGES. Ukrainian Defense Minister spokesman Valeriy Korol has rejected Bosnian and Western charges that seven Ukrainian peacekeepers were involved in smuggling, Ukrainian media reported on 30 October. But Korol said that during the investigation that led to the peacekeepers' exoneration on those charges, it had been discovered that four of them illegally used official vehicles to transport local people. He said the four would be pulled out of Bosnia.

UKRAINE, RUSSIA BEGIN JOINT EXERCISES. Some 15,000 naval personnel from Russia and Ukraine have begun a three-day exercise on the Black Sea, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 October. The 17 Russian ships and 11 Ukrainian ships are simulating a situation of internal conflict within an unspecified country. Ukrainian officials said that despite conducting the exercises with Russia, Kyiv remains committed to expanding ties with NATO.

TURKMEN-UKRAINIAN GAS AGREEMENT. Meeting in Ashgabat on 30 October, Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Holubchenko and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov agreed that Turkmenistan will supply Ukraine with 3 billion cubic meters of gas next year and 20 billion cubic meters in 1998, Interfax reported. In exchange, Ukraine will help Turkmenistan build chemical plants and a bridge across the Amudarya River. The estimated cost of the latter project is $80 million. The question of how Ukraine will settle its outstanding $1.5 billion debts for earlier gas deliveries was not resolved.