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UkrGeoAzeBat

In March 2000 the Ukrainian Defense Minister officially declared that formation of the Ukrainian-Georgian-Azeri battalion within the GUUAM Union is no longer a problem. Kuzmuk was not in a rush, however, to initiate the public into missions assigned to that military formation. But the missions are well-known already. In absence of any weighty arguments in favor of the Ukrainian route for the carriage of Azeri oil to Georgia and further to Europe but a convincing enough military argument, Kyiv is ready to play the first violin in providing security for the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline and thus diversify its energy sources.

Given the statements by the President of Azerbaijan Heidar Aliyev that that country may join NATO sometime, as well as pro-NATO sentiments in Tbilisi (backed up by heavy financial assistance of Washington and Ankara), Kyiv's policy's orientation was understandable. Besides, Kyiv reasonably hopes to find a good ally in Warsaw's person. Firstly, addressing the Sejm, Defense Minister Onyszkewicz was explicit enough about calling Russia the main threat to Poland's national security. Secondly, Warsaw received guarantees of Ukraine's top government officials that the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline would have been completed by the end of 2001 on the one hand, and Slovakia's formal consent to take part in the effort to complete the new branch of the Russian gas pipeline running through the territory of Slovakia and Poland bypassing Ukraine on the other hand. Therefore Poland's wishing to make itself secure against Russia's unpredictability, the more so in the face of presidential election in Russia, is quite understandable.

The idea to form a tripartite battalion was for the first time put forward by Ukraine during Ukrainian Defense Ministry team's visit to Azerbaijan in 1998. Defense experts attribute the battalion's formation to the need to provide security for oil pipelines carrying Azeri oil to Georgia and further to Western Europe.



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