RUSSIA-UKRAINE: DIFFERENCES, WHICH CANNOT BE SOLVED

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It seems that Moscow and Kiev enter a long phase of relations based on confrontation, mutual reproaches and inability to reach an agreement regarding many issues, including military, political and economic integration. The parliamentary election and battles linked with the creation of political coalitions in Ukraine contribute to these processes. It should be noted that Kiev’s unfriendly tone becomes stricter. Russia and Moscow have not reached an agreement regarding the Black Sea fleet. The environment of the Ukrainian president speaks of the possibility of the withdrawal from the CIS, joining NATO and the EU and rehabilitation of the Ukrainian insurgent army. Yushchenko thinks that the issue of the insurgent army must become one of the clauses of the political agreement regarding the creation of the coalition of the majority in the Supreme Rada. This issue concerns Russia only indirectly. In addition, Russia pours oil on the flames, breaking the fragile integration links. In particular, the Defense Ministry speaks of the possibility of the withdrawal from the joint project aimed at creating the An-70 military-transport plane. Russia does not make concessions regarding gas prices. In other words, Moscow exerts pressure too. Such confrontation affects the Black Sea fleet. Russia does not have another naval base in this region. Moscow is interested in using the base with the minimum expenditure. However, negotiations concerning the Black Sea fleet did not bear fruit on May 4. Ukrainian representatives said that the Black Sea fleet “seized 150 hectares of land plots and hundreds of buildings in the Crimea”. They noted that the issue of the presence of Russian servicemen in Ukraine is very difficult. The Russian Foreign Ministry replied that Russia wants to reach an agreement. Kiev noted that Ukraine is prepared for active negotiations but cannot put up with the tactic aimed at hindering negotiations.

The next round of negotiations is to be held in July-August 2006. Moscow denies the possibility of revising the terms of the rent of the base in Ukraine. In addition, Russia wants to settle a range of issues. Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin thinks that there are many such questions in the financial, military-political, navigation, legal and environmental sectors.

Karasin said: “Our positions differ regarding the mechanism of renovation of the fleet’s weapons, navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and the rights of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies at the Russian base.”

Kiev states that these issues are not as important. Ukraine insists on the necessity of raising the rent. Leonid Polyakov, Ukrainian acting defense minister, stated on May 6 that “in response to Russia’s initiatives linked with the transition to market relations” Ukraine is forced to use adequate methods, including the revision of the rent for the base of the Black Sea fleet. Polyakov said that Kiev does not deny the fact that the Black Sea fleet must remain in Ukraine until 2017. However, the terms of the agreement must change: “Approaches to cooperation have changed. We previously made concessions on the basis of friendship and cooperation. We have to react adequately to Russia’s initiatives to switch to market relations.”

The official did not say how much Ukraine wants to receive for the base. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry previously stated that the rent may reach $1.6-$1.8 billion. Moscow will not cut gas prices, and Kiev will not step back concerning the rent. The situation reached the deadlock.

It should be noted that the new wave of attacks on Russia coincides with the international conference in Vilnius on May 4. As is known, US Vice President Richard Chaney criticized Russia at the conference. Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the Baltic States organized an anti-Russian alliance at the conference. Vasily Filipchuk, a representative of the Ukrainian Forfeign Ministry, stated that there are plans to create an international organization on the basis of GUAM on May 22-23. The US-sponsored GUAM summit will be held in Kiev. It’s supposed to open the secretariat of this organization in the Ukrainian capital. Ukraine also intends to expand its participation in international anti-terrorist operations under the aegis of NATO. The West and the US support Kiev’s anti-Russian policy. It’s impossible to reach a compromise when a third party intervenes in the dispute.

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