World Fails On Chernobyl Aid Pledges: Putin

TOMSK, Russia -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has charged that the world had failed to keep promises made over the past two decades to help Ukraine cope with the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which linger today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

"The international community, in spite of its promises, is doing almost nothing to help Ukraine," Putin told reporters here during a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Russian president said he had spoken to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko by telephone on Wednesday, the day marking the 20th anniversary of the catastrophe at a Soviet-era nuclear power station outside the town of Chernobyl in Ukraine.

"We discussed steps to take," Putin said without elaborating.

Yushchenko, who led somber commemorative ceremonies in Ukraine marking the anniversary of the tragedy, called for more international help to deal with its consequences.

"We call on all signatories of the Ottawa memorandum to compensate Ukraine for costs incurred in closing the Chernobyl station," Yushchenko said, referring to a 1995 pact in which Western nations pledged three billion dollars (2.4 billion euros) in aid to Ukraine provided it closed the defunct plant by 2000.

Yushchenko said Ukraine had spent 15 billion dollars over the past 20 years in dealing with Chernobyl after-effects and projected it would spend another 170 billion dollars by 2015.

Source: AFP