Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 158

A senior Ukrainian defense ministry official told a briefing that Kiev intends to increase its military presence on Serpents’ Island in the Black Sea. Three days earlier, Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko had cautioned that Ukraine’s consent would be required for any arbitration by the International Court of Justice in the matter, which Romania recently said it may seek. Both Ukrainian officials stressed that Kiev seeks good relations with Romania and wishes to separate the dispute over the island from bilateral economic cooperation and from relations among the two defense ministries. (17)

Earlier this year the Ukrainian military reinforced its small units on Serpents’ Island, and Ukraine’s defense and internal affairs ministers and border troops commander inspected those units. Romania lost the island to the USSR in 1948, and disputes Ukraine’s title to the small island, whose surrounding area is believed to contain oil and gas deposits. Ukraine has warned that it would regard a Romanian petition to the Internal Court of Justice as an official territorial claim. Romanian president Ion Iliescu says that the issue can be settled by diplomatic means. (18) The statement can hardly reassure Kiev since it seems to imply putting Bucharest’s claim on the official agenda, along with its claims stemming from the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.

Ukraine, Poland Chart Cooperation.