Yesterday’s talks between Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma produced a demonstration of Ukraine’s willingness to settle the Black Sea Fleet dispute even at the cost of additional concessions to Russia. The hospital-ward meeting, limited to a half-hour and partly devoted to expressions of good wishes to the ailing Yeltsin, could hardly have finalized a deal and did not appear to do so. Both presidents and their spokesmen announced that they expected the package of three agreements on the fleet to be signed by their prime ministers in Kiev by mid-November. However, there was no word on how to bridge the outstanding differences that the high-level October 22 talks preparatory to yesterday’s meeting had failed to resolve (see Monitor, October 24). The two presidents yesterday tasked a working group, headed by Russian deputy prime minister Valery Serov and Ukrainian first deputy prime minister Vasyl Durdinets (who had also negotiated on October 22), to hold more talks during the weeks ahead "on the remaining problems." The most serious of those problems appear to include the terms for partitioning the fleet’s coastal assets and infrastructure, apportioning Sevastopol’s bays, and establishing the time frame and financial conditions for leasing bases in Ukraine to Russia. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, October 24) Kuchma, mindful that a final deal has previously proved elusive, told reporters: "We discussed the date (for signing a deal). Alas these dates have changed so many times in the past." (Reuter October 24)
Link to Political Treaty.