Russia’s minister for CIS relations, Aman Tuleev, has denounced the wide-ranging treaty between Ukraine and Russia expected to be signed during President Yeltsin’s visit to Kiev, scheduled for May 30-31. In a bluntly outspoken interview with Interfax, Tuleev said Russia stood to "lose more than it gains" from such a treaty, which will recognize Ukraine’s borders within its present borders and thereby acknowledge Ukraine’s sovereignty over both Crimea and Sevastopol. Tuleev complained that the treaty will pave the way for Ukraine to join NATO and "deprive Russia of the opportunity to resolve the problem of the Black Sea Fleet, introduce dual citizenship and get Russian recognized as an official language in Ukraine." Moscow will, as a result, "lose large groups in Ukraine of potential supporters of reunification with Russia." (Interfax, May 28)
Interfax said Tuleev had expressed his disagreements in a letter to the Russian government. But the fact that Tuleev was not included in Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s delegation, now in Kiev, and that he is not listed as a member of the official delegation due to accompany President Yeltsin on May 30, indicates that his views are not shared by the rest of the Russian government.
Last week, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin described as "inappropriate" earlier criticism by Tuleev of the policies of the government of Kazakstan. (RIA, May 22) Tuleev had accused Kazakstan of deliberately undermining the establishment of joint ventures and financial-industrial groups with Russia, and described President Nursultan Nazarbaev as "a founding member of anti-Russian blocs, projects and ventures." (RIA, May 20) Tuleev complained about the introduction of customs checks at Kazak airports and railway stations, the extent of foreign investment in Kazakstan’s natural resources, and cuts in air time given to Russian broadcasters in the republic. His statements provoked a complaint from Nazarbaev to a delegation of Russian journalists led by presidential press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky, and Chernomyrdin instructed Tuleev at that time to adopt a more "businesslike" approach to dealings with Russia’s CIS partners.
Ukraine’s Naval Toehold in Sevastopol.