Russian president Boris Yeltsin yesterday confirmed that he will pay an official visit to Ukraine April 4 and 5 in order to sign a framework interstate treaty ("of friendship and cooperation") with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma. But Yeltsin added that he will ask "just what is it that keeps Kiev from integrating with Russia" on the Belarus model. Also yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov cautioned that the treaty can not be signed unless differences over the Black Sea Fleet and other issues are resolved in advance. Krylov was speaking at the conclusion of yet another Moscow meeting of Prime Ministers Viktor Chernomyrdin and Yevhen Marchuk — the second in the space of a week — which, according to Krylov, was "difficult" and failed to settle most contentious issues. (Interfax-Ukraine, Itar-Tass, March 25)
The composition of Ukraine’s delegation indicated that military and security issues were prominent on the agenda. There was no word yesterday about long-unresolved differences on political and economic issues. Those include an unambiguous recognition of Ukraine’s borders, which Moscow has declined to include in the interstate treaty; settlement of Ukrainian debts for past Russian fuel deliveries; and Russian tariff barriers which violate the Russian-Ukrainian free trade treaty. If the oft-delayed summit does take place, the range and seriousness of unresolved issues would seem to presage a difficult encounter, unless Yeltsin decides for domestic political reasons to paper over the disagreements.
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