Sergei Ivanov: "A municipal court decision cannot apply to such a facility"

Ukraine and Russia are involved in a dispute over facilities in the Crimea used by the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov maintains that the Yalta lighthouse is specifically mentioned in the agreement of 1997, and further negotiations are continuing.

The defense ministers of Russia and Ukraine commented yesterday on the conflict over facilities in the Crimea used by the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoly Gritsenko denied any possibility of an armed conflict between Kiev and Moscow over this situation. Russian Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov was less categorical, saying that security guards at Black Sea Fleet facilities in the Crimea have the right to defend them, in accordance with regulations.

Ivanov answered our correspondent’s questions while touring some military-industrial complex enterprises in Obninsk and Kaluga.

Sergei Ivanov: The Black Sea Fleet’s navigation facilities, some of which are on Ukrainian territory, were listed in a special section of the basic treaty signed in 1997. The same facilities are named in an appendix to the treaty. They include the Yalta lighthouse. So when the Ukrainians say that the lighthouse isn’t mentioned anywhere – that’s not true. At the same time, that agreement does indeed specify that Russia and Ukraine should conclude a separate agreement regarding navigation facilities. That is true, and work on this has been under way in recent years. Still, those efforts keep stopping and starting.

Question: So the negotiations are “more dead than alive”?

Sergei Ivanov: Not at all. Russia is prepared to continue these negotiations. As far as I know, we invited our Ukrainian friends to join a special sub-commission on the Black Sea Fleet, established by the joint decision of both the Russian and Ukrainian presidents. We invited them to Moscow to continue the talks, but the Ukrainians said it was inconvenient for them to come to Moscow and they would be prepared to receive us in Kiev. We agreed to that proposal, and in February the head of the working group – Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin – and other members of the delegation, including some Navy representatives, will go to Ukraine in order to continue negotiations on that agreement.

Question: Ukraine is waving around the decision of some minor court regarding who owns the Yalta lighthouse.

Sergei Ivanov: In our view, since the facility is named and listed in an international treaty, its fate can only be decided within the framework of inter-governmental agreements. No decisions made by municipal or village courts can apply to such facilities. I’m not a lawyer, but I do know that much.