Campaigning in Khabarovsk prior to his departure for Beijing, Boris Yeltsin tried to defuse mounting controversy in the Russian Far East over demarcation of the border with China. Yeltsin declared that the 1991 border agreement with China had, in fact, forestalled Chinese claims on some half a million square kilometers of Russian territory. He reiterated that Russia would honor its commitments by turning over to China the pieces of territory in the Ussuriysk and Khasan districts of the Maritime krai that have been at the center of the current controversy. Declaring that "a great country must keep its word," Yeltsin argued also that reneging on the border agreement could destabilize the border area and cause the region to suffer politically and economically. Finally, Yeltsin underscored that Moscow would make no concessions with regard to the Bolshoi Ussuriysky and Tarabarov islands in the Amur River, or the Bolshoi island in the upper Argun river. (Interfax, April 24) A decision on the fate of those islands, which remain under Russian jurisdiction, has already been put off until a later date.
Yeltsin Upgrades Development Program for Russia’s Pacific Rim.