WIDE RANGE OF ISSUES DISCUSSED AT "TROIKA" MEETING. Yeltsin, French President Jacques Chirac, and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, meeting outside Moscow on 26 March, agreed that the "sudden application of pressure" in Kosovo is unnecessary at this point, and they reviewed Russia's ties with the EU and NATO. In discussions on a project to build a new generation aircraft, Yeltsin favored basing that project on the Russian-Ukrainian agreement on the An-70 airplane. Kohl spoke out strongly against Latvia's and Estonia's policies toward those countries' ethnic Russian minorities, saying Tallinn and Riga should not "overestimate the amount of support for them from Western European states." Chirac said he is against the Baltic States entering NATO. And Yeltsin stressed that an expanded Europe will become a major force in today's multipolar world. All three leaders underlined that their meeting poses no threat to any country. BP

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WON'T ENFRANCHISE TATARS. Leonid Kuchma said on 26 March that signing a decree allowing Crimean Tatars the right to vote would be unconstitutional. He commented that he cannot violate the constitution, even if such a move would relieve tension in Crimea. Thousands of Tatars in Simferopol clashed with police recently in protests demanding they be granted suffrage in time for the 29 March elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 March 1998). Tatar leaders have called for more protests on the eve of the elections. Crimean police chief Hennady Moskal said on 25 March that a large police force would be brought into Crimea to maintain order on election day. PB

UKRAINE CLARIFIES POSITION ON JOINING NATO. Ukrainian officials said at a 26 March session of a NATO-Ukraine Commission that Kyiv "does not rule out" joining the alliance but that such a move is currently unrealistic, an RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels reported. The Ukrainian delegation named three conditions for joining NATO: decisive public opinion in favor of accession; bringing the Ukrainian military in line with NATO standards; and the guarantee that joining the alliance will not hurt relations with neighboring countries, particularly Russia. The NATOUkraine Commission is meeting to discuss how to implement the partnership charter signed last year in Madrid. PB

CONFUSION OVER ODESSA MEETING. Igor Smirnov, leader of the Transdniestrian separatists, claims that at the 20 March meeting in Odessa, Moldova, the Transdniester, Russia, and Ukraine reached an understanding on how to solve the conflict between Chisinau and Tiraspol, RFE/RL's bureau in the Moldovan capital reported on 26 March. None of the other participants in the 20 March meeting has made public reference to such an understanding. Smirnov also said that the dismissal of Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin--who represented Moscow at the meeting-- "must not be dramatized." But he said that if the documents "signed at the four-side meeting are revoked," Tiraspol will not hesitate "to start afresh" its
drive for recognition of Transdniester independence. MS