Ukraine must withdraw troops from Iraq by Dec. 30, Ukraine defense chief says

Ukraine's defense minister said Monday the 800 troops remaining in Iraq will be withdrawn following Iraq's December elections. He spoke on the sidelines of a NATO-Ukraine meeting in Lithuania.

"We will fulfill our tasks until the election campaign concludes, which is scheduled for Dec. 15," Anatoliy Grytsenko said, according to a Defense Ministry statement. "And then from Dec. 20-30, according to plan, the Ukrainian contingent will be withdrawn." At its height, Ukraine's 1,650-troop contingent was the fourth largest non-U.S. military grouping in Iraq. About 800 Ukrainian troops remain there, the ministry said.

Ukraine began withdrawing its troops in March, and President Viktor Yushchenko has promised they would be out by year's end. A.M.