Ukraine Calls for NATO Help in Destroying Outdated Ammunition

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Monday called for help from NATO and the European Union (EU) in destroying his country's weapons and ammunition left from World War I and World War II.

According to the Ukrainian Interfax, there are 2 million tons of outdated ammunition stored in ammo depots throughout the country. However, Ukraine can only destroy 60,000 tons each year.

Ukraine is incapable of dealing with such a large amount of ammunition, said Yushchenko when meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Yushchenko said his country hopes to carry out special projects with NATO and the EU to resolve the problem and reduce accidents in the ammunition depots.

An ammo depot in Khmelnitskiaya caught fire and injured nine people in May. A year earlier, explosions in another ammo depot in Zaporozhskaya killed five people and lasted for one week. About 10,000 people living nearby were evacuated due to the accident.

De Hoop Scheffer said it is necessary for the two sides to cooperate in destroying the old ammunition, adding that NATO has a 5 million-US-dollar special fund for eliminating ammunition and missile fuel.

De Hoop Scheffer arrived in Kiev on Monday for a one-day visit. During his visit, he met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other officials, pledging NATO's full support for Ukraine's efforts to push forward the European integration process.

Source: Xinhua