UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT BELIEVES RUSSIA WILL APPROVE BILATERAL TREATY... Leonid Kuchma, speaking in Kyiv on 30 January, said that people should not "overdramatize" Moscow's delay in ratifying the comprehensive UkrainianRussian treaty, ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma, speaking upon his return from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, said he shares Russian Premier Yevgenii Primakov's view that in time "Russian parliamentary deputies will gain a greater understanding of the need to ratify the treaty." Primakov said in Moscow the following day that "we need very close relations with Ukraine" but such ties are impossible "if we lay any territorial claims on Ukraine." Kuchma said talks on a customs union between Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine is premature. PB

...WARNS RUSSIAN CRISIS POSES DANGERS FOR KYIV. Kuchma on 29 January said that the Russian financial crisis creates political dangers and economic problems for Ukraine, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Davos, Switzerland. Kuchma, speaking at the World Economic Forum, said turmoil in Russia has encouraged elements in Ukraine that are not committed to reforms. Kuchma said Ukraine's reform model must be improved and market mechanisms, competitiveness, private ownership, and investment opportunities addressed. He added that low currency reserves are a pressing problem and that agreements with the IMF will have to be renegotiated because of a worsening economic climate. PB

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER DECRIES MILITARY'S LACK OF MONEY. Oleksandr Kuzmuk said on 29 January that the Ukrainian army will stagnate in 1999 because of a lack of funds, AP reported. Kuzmuk said the 1.7 billion hryvni ($496 million) pledged for defense in the budget is "nothing for a country like Ukraine." He said insufficient funding in previous years has resulted in wage arrears of six months for many officers and soldiers. The military has no money for "modernizing, training, or buying weapons," he added. The Ukraine military has some 320,000 personnel, about one-third of its strength when the Soviet Union collapsed. PB