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PUTIN CONGRATULATES UKRAINIAN LEADERS. President Putin telephoned his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko on August 7 to congratulate him for ending the political stalemate in Ukraine by naming Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the pro-Moscow Party of Regions, to head the cabinet, Interfax reported. Putin subsequently phoned Yanukovych to congratulate him on his election. Both Putin and Yanukovych said that they want to start "detailed discussions on Russian-Ukrainian issues" soon (see "RFE/RL Newsline," August 7, 2006). PM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DECREES THREE MULTINATIONAL MILITARY EXERCISES. President Viktor Yushchenko has signed a decree that will allow three military exercises involving the participation of foreign troops to be held in Ukraine in 2006, Interfax-Ukraine reported. The decree follows the Verkhovna Rada's authorization on August 4 of the South 2006 maneuvers, which are to include the participation of Moldovan troops in August in Mykolayiv Oblast; the Cossack Steppe exercise involving British and Polish troops in Zhytomyr Oblast in September; and an exercise involving Slovak soldiers in Lviv Oblast in September. Originally, Kyiv was planning to hold six multinational military exercises in Ukraine, including the Sea Breeze 2006 maneuvers with a sizable NATO contingent. However, the Verkhovna Rada failed to authorize these exercises in February. Moreover, the visit of a U.S. naval ship in the Crimean port of Feodosiya in May sparked a series of anti-NATO protests in Ukraine, with several Ukrainian regions declaring themselves to be "NATO-free territories." JM
BUSH, PUTIN CONGRATULATE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON NEW GOVERNMENT. U.S. President George W. Bush has congratulated Ukrainian President Yushchenko on the formation of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's government, Interfax-Ukraine reported on August 7, quoting the Ukrainian presidential press service. Bush reportedly pledged in his message that the United States will continue to help Ukraine strengthen its sovereignty, democracy, and prosperity. Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned Yushchenko on August 7 to congratulate him on the settlement of the political crisis in Ukraine with the formation of Prime Minister Yanukovych's cabinet. JM