Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 236

In the midst of a visit to South Korea, Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma said yesterday that a possible Russian-Ukrainian conflict over Sevastopol "would be a grave crime against humanity." Also yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s chief spokesman, Gennady Tarasov, stated at a briefing that Moscow "cannot comprehend" a statement from the Ukrainian parliament that rejected Russian "territorial claims" to Sevastopol. "The official position of Russia’s executive branch is that Sevastopol and Crimea belong to Ukraine," Tarasov said. In Kiev, however, the Ukrainian General Staff’s chief cartographer, Col. Vyacheslav Zhyhulin, complained that the Russian side is leaving unanswered Ukraine’s repeated proposals to proceed with the delimitation and demarcation of their mutual, 2,063 kilometer-long border. Romania has adopted the same attitude, Zhyhulin said. By contrast, Slovakia has completed, and Poland and Hungary are well on their way toward completing, the demarcation of their respective borders with Ukraine. In Odessa for talks with Moldovan officials, Ukrainian deputy foreign minister Konstantin Hrishchenko (who handles border delimitation and demarcation talks with Ukraine’s neighbors) said that the work on that sector is advancing in "the most propitious atmosphere." (UNIAN, December 16; Interfax-Ukraine, December 17)

All of these countries, with the exception of Slovakia, have had historical and post-World War II border problems with Ukraine. But only Russia and Romania have questioned independent Ukraine’s borders since 1991. Romania’s new, right-of-center president and government signaled last week that they are prepared to change that position. That would leave Moscow alone in the position of questioning Ukraine’s border.

Shevardnadze Apologizes to Ukraine for Russian "Piracy," But Problems with Russian Border Troops Multiply.