Kuchma stated after the meeting that Kiev’s "sole wish" at this point is for Yeltsin to make a quick recovery so that he can sign the Russian-Ukrainian framework treaty on good-neighborly relations once the fleet dispute is resolved. "Ukraine’s political elite wishes to resolve this problem," stated Kuchma, who appeared to link its resolution with Yeltsin’s personal fortunes: "Yeltsin wants to get the operation behind him soon and return with full force to the political arena… Not only Russia but also Ukraine and the world need him." For his part, Yeltsin appeared to set the goal of a treaty-signing visit to Ukraine as a test of his capacity to recover physically. "I will be the one to sign that treaty when I get out of here," Yeltsin said in a fleeting TV appearance from the hospital. He added that his first foreign visit will be to Ukraine "after he is back in shape." Again, there was no word on how to settle the outstanding differences over the draft interstate treaty. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, Russian TV, October 24)
Moscow conditions the signing of the political treaty on the prior resolution of the fleet dispute. But four years of negotiations on the political treaty have not yielded a definitive and unambiguous Russian recognition of Ukraine’s borders and other attributes of independence. The uncertainties surrounding Yeltsin’s health confront Kiev with the dilemma of either insisting on iron-clad treaty language, or of settling for less in order to have the treaty signed as soon as possible while Yeltsin is still in power. Recognition of Ukraine’s borders by treaty has now acquired even greater urgency following the Russian Duma’s latest statements on Crimea and Sevastopol.
Duma Explicitly Claims Sevastopol for Russia.