Thursday, November 04, 2004

It's so weird to be a citizen of such an obscure country as Ukraine...

The New York Times has a story today about the U.S. allies in Iraq - namely, about Hungary planning to withdraw its troops by March 2005, following the January election. A number of current and former allies are mentioned in addition to Hungary - but Ukraine isn't, despite its 1,650 troops based in Iraq.

I personally think it's good that we're so invisible, very good, at least in the context of the Iraqi adventure... but it is still too weird.

Below is the number of troops each of the coalition members mentioned in the New York Times' piece has or used to have in Iraq (originally, the total used to be 22,000 troops from 32 countries):

Britain - 12,000
Italy - 3,100
Poland - 2,400
the Netherlands - 1,400
Bulgaria- 483 (down to 430 next month)
Thailand - 450
Hungary - 300
New Zealand - 60 engineers (on the way out)
Singapore - 33 (down from 191)
Moldova - 12 (down from 42)

Norway - 155 military engineers (withdrawn), "15 staff members to help NATO train and equip the Iraqi security forces" (still there)
Spain - 1,300 (withdrawn)
the Dominican Republic - 302 (withdrawn)
Honduras - 370 (withdrawn)
Nicaragua - 115 (withdrawn)
the Philippines - 51 (withdrawn)

And here's a paragraph on Ukraine's Iraq plans, from the Guardian's pre-election piece:

When it comes to the 1,650 Ukrainian troops in Iraq, which most Ukrainians oppose, the candidates have different rhetoric, yet the same shade of grey as a reply. Mr Yushchenko's promise to withdraw the men is tempered with the pledge not to "discomfort" Ukraine's allies - the new Iraqi government and the US. Mr Yanukovich counters that the troops will come home some time after the election, in January.

(A scary thought: I'd rather have 1,650 troops that no one knows about in Iraq than Yanukovych as this country's president...)

1 comment:

  1. It is strange how little attention the EU/western Europe pays to Ukraine, and also to Belarus, the old-style dictatorship on the borders. In fact part of the package for countries like Poland joining the EU was that they should specifically turn their backs on their eastern neighbours, by sealing the border and looking westwards. Americans are always accused of being ignorant about the world outside but in western Europe few people have any knowledge or understanding about Ukraine - which is why we need your weblog!
    Stephen (euro-correspondent)