Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 235

In a weekend broadcast to the nation, Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma stated that good-neighborly relations with Russia are fundamental to Ukraine’s foreign policy. Kuchma once again extended an invitation to Russian president Boris Yeltsin to visit Kiev for the long overdue signing of a bilateral political treaty. Citing Russian-Ukrainian "common history and traditional human ties," Kuchma stressed that "peace and calm in the whole of Europe depend on friendly Russian-Ukrainian relations." He also called for completing the Black Sea Fleet’s partition and signing an agreement on the conditions of the Russian fleet’s temporary stationing in Ukraine. The president regretted the attempts of "certain politicians’" in Moscow to "play the Crimean card… posing territorial demands, even threatening to use force, and resorting to uncivilized methods contravening contemporary international norms… Not everyone in Moscow has learned to treat Ukraine as an independent state and give up the drill sergeant’s tone toward it." Kuchma called for "calm and civilized negotiations" to settle the Fleet and other issues. (Interfax-Ukraine, December 15)

On the same day Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko told a staff meeting of Ukraine’s Diplomatic Academy that the latest tensions in Russian-Ukrainian relations stem from efforts in Moscow to "restore a Greater Russia [and] recover the USSR’s place in international relations." The end of the war in Chechnya, he added, "unties Russia’s hands to ‘make order’ in Ukraine." These tendencies, Udovenko continued, are being exacerbated by President Boris Yeltsin’s illness, which, in practical terms, has triggered an early campaign for the Russian presidency. Udovenko rejected Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov’s recent assertion that the Helsinki agreements do not apply to borders among ex-Soviet countries. That thesis, as well as the Russian government’s silence in the face of the Duma’s and Federation Council’s claims to Sevastopol "are all the more puzzling as Russia has guaranteed to respect Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity" under the agreements on Ukraine’s denuclearization. Udovenko nevertheless maintained that the "difficulties are perfectly soluble," and urged Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to visit Kiev for talks on the full spectrum of problems. (Interfax-Ukraine, December 15)

In a related development, Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov has agreed to the Ukrainian government’s public suggestion that he postpone a planned visit to Sevastopol for the inauguration of an apartment complex built with Moscow city funds for Russian Black Sea Fleet personnel. (Russian and Ukrainian agencies, December 15) A leading promoter of Russian claims to Sevastopol, Luzhkov on December 7 had also alluded to the possible use of force against Ukraine — a statement to which the Russian government failed to react.

Nazarbaev Stresses Reforms and National Interest on Independence Anniversary.