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POLAND INCLUDES UKRAINIAN PIPELINE PROJECT IN SECURITY STRATEGY. Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz and his Ukrainian counterpart Yuriy Yekhanurov signed on 16 February in Warsaw a joint declaration on government assistance to the Odesa-Brody-Plock pipeline project, Interfax reported. Marcinkiewicz said the project will be a part of Poland's energy security strategy, and that within the next two months the Polish government will take all necessary measures to ensure the venture is profitable. Yekhanurov said the agreement opens the way to stop within 90 days the pumping of oil toward, rather than away from, the port in Odesa. The extension of the Odesa-Brody pipeline to Poland is meant to help transport Caspian crude oil to Europe and to aid Poland in diversifying its energy supplies. AM

UKRAINE SEEKS REPLACEMENT FOR ROSUKRENERGO IN GAS SUPPLIES. Prime Minister Yekhanurov said on 16 February the government is seeking an agreement with Russia in order to replace the Swiss-based company RosUkrEnergo as the intermediary in the current deal to ship Russian gas supplies to Ukraine, Interfax reported. Yekhanurov said he has sent a request to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, and that if the Russian side also finds RosUkrEnergo unsuitable, "we are anticipating its replacement with pleasure, and Gazprom would be the best replacement." U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst the same day expressed surprise that RosUkrEnergo was playing a significant role in such an important agreement, adding that the United States views it as a suspicious organization. According to open data, RosUkrEnergo's revenue in 2005 was around $3 billion, and yet its staff consisted of just 12 employees. "It would be better if this $3 billion were in the coffers of Ukraine or Russia," Herbst said. AM

UKRAINE RULES OUT PRESENCE OF RUSSIAN FLEET IN CRIMEA AFTER 2017. Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko said on 16 February in Sevastopol that Russia's Black Sea Fleet will remain in Ukraine after 2017, Interfax reported. Hrytsenko, who was attending a Ukrainian naval ceremony for a new Ukrainian-made corvette, a small antisubmarine ship, added that the withdrawal of the Russian fleet should be a planned action that "will not cause damage to the combat capacity of the fleet" and "will settle social and economic issues." However, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine's former prime minister and the leader of the popular Party of Regions, said the same day that Ukraine will improve its relations with Russia after the 26 March parliamentary elections and "make a carefully weighed decision on the Black Sea Fleet." AM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ASKS FOR INVITATION TO NATO SUMMIT. Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign Minister Anton Buteiko said on 16 February that NATO members will soon receive a letter from Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko expressing Ukraine's hope of being invited to join the alliance's Membership Action Plan at a meeting between Ukrainian and NATO officials in Sofia in April, Interfax reported. Buteiko said Ukraine, if invited, will be ready to implement the first stage of the plan this autumn. He also noted that Ukraine hoped to be invited to become a full-fledged NATO members at the alliance summit in 2008. AM