UKRAINE STARTS REPAYING DEBT TO GAZPROM. Gazprom Executive Board Chairman Igor Bakai told journalists on 25 January that Ukraine has begun repaying its gas debt to Russia, Interfax reported. Bakai said that last month, Ukraine paid $7 million in cash to Gazprom and shipped $28 million worth of commodities in payment for gas supplies. Ukraine's state-run and private companies owe Gazprom some $1 billion for last year's gas supplies. JM

GERMAN FIRMS TO JOIN UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN MILITARY CARGO PLANE PROJECT. Seven German firms, including BMW-Rolls Royce and Fairchild Dornie, have agreed to join a Ukrainian-Russian project to construct a military cargo plane based on the Ukrainian-Russian An-70 aircraft, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 25 January. Eight European countries are planning to announce an international tender on 29 January to choose a new cargo plane for their military forces. German firms decided to join the Ukrainian-Russian bid, which is an updated version of the military cargo plane constructed by the Ukrainian-Russian venture. The new plane is adjusted to NATO standards and can carry cargoes up to 35 tons for a distance of 3,800 kilometers at a speed of 750 kilometers per hour. JM

POLAND, CANADA PLEDGE SUPPORT TO UKRAINE. Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien praised Poland for its political and economic reforms, adding that the country can serve as a "bridge between the EU and the rest of Europe," AP reported on 25 January. Chretien joined Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek in calling for both countries to help Ukraine pursue reform. "Once you show trust in Ukraine, market reforms and democratic reforms will be moving forward quite quickly," Buzek said. Chretien admitted that "two middle powers like Poland and Canada" can combine efforts to assist Ukraine's development. JM