Ukraine’s parliament has approved a resolution calling on the president to immediately withdraw its 1,650 troops from Iraq.
The worsening security situation there motivated the vote which was non-binding. On Sunday, eight Ukrainian soldiers were killed in an explosion. The next day outgoing president Leonid Kuchma ordered the return of his troops. Kuchma is to turn over power to president-elect Viktor Yushchenko who says the withdrawal is a priority. The soldiers are expected to be pulled out of Iraq in the first half of this year. The US has asked for the process to take place gradually. It was initally thought Sunday’s deaths were caused by an accident but now officials are investigating the possibility of an attack. In all 17 Ukrainian soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq since they were deployed in August 2003.