Returning yesterday with President Leonid Kuchma from Georgia, Ukrainian officials cited him as stating at the concluding news conference there that "a third man, Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin, invisibly hovered over our one-on-one meeting" [of Kuchma and Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze]. We dialogued with Yeltsin the whole time by asking him questions and answering those questions ourselves." (See Monitor, October 30, on the Ukrainian-Georgian summit). Kuchma and Shevardnadze agreed that unimpeded bilateral trade among CIS countries, including free transit trade between them via Russia, must become a reality before they will accede to any "unified CIS customs space" or customs union. Georgia agreed to increase substantially imports of Ukrainian sugar, alcohol, and other major Ukrainian export commodities subjected to Russian import restrictions despite the Russian-Ukrainian free trade agreement. The Ukrainian and Georgian delegations acknowledged that implementation depends for the time being on Russian transit facilities. But they cited projections that transport between Ukraine and Georgia across the Black Sea will — once the ferry line is established as planned — be several times cheaper compared to transit via Russia. (DINAU, October 30; Iprinda, October 29)
Moscow Still Confused by Collapse of CIS Summit.