Ukraine proposes to "reduce military tensions in the Black Sea" and turn that sea’s basin into a "zone of peace," President Leonid Kuchma told a Kyiv news conference. Specifically, Kuchma called for demilitarization of Sevastopol and its transformation "from a naval base into a civilian city." (Ukrainian agencies, December 16)
Kuchma originally aired this proposal during the final phases of negotiations with Russia over the partition and basing of the Black Sea Fleet. At that stage, the idea to demilitarize Sevastopol appeared designed for gaining leverage in the negotiations. Last May’s Russian-Ukrainian agreement provides for parallel basing in Sevastopol by both fleets. The revival of the proposal to demilitarize Sevastopol shows that Kyiv is unwilling to accept a Russian naval presence on Ukrainian territory over the long term.
Go Back to Russian Fold, Transdniester Tells Moldova.