Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 224

Russian president Boris Yeltsin on November 28 vetoed the bill, approved by both chambers of the Russian parliament, on halting the partition of the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet and its coastal infrastructure between Russia and Ukraine. Yeltsin argued in his veto message that the bill should have mandated the suspension, rather than the halting, of the fleet’s partition, in order to make possible the resumption of negotiations. He also said that the bill failed to specifically stipulate that the fleet’s ex-Soviet status had ceased. (Rossiiskie vesti, November 30) Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma responded by publicly urging Yeltsin to de-couple the fleet dispute from the bilateral treaty on good neighborly relations, and to visit Kiev soon for signing that long-overdue treaty. (Interfax-Ukraine, UNIAN, November 30)

The majority of Yeltsin’s backers in both chambers had supported the bill, which was initiated by the Communist-nationalist opposition. The Ukrainian parliament had responded with a bill of its own that would declare the Russian-controlled bulk of the fleet an occupation force and give Moscow until the year 2000 to withdraw it from Ukrainian territory. The Russian executive branch firmly links the fleet talks to the signing of the interstate treaty, which is supposed to include a long-overdue official recognition of Ukraine’s borders.

Russian Leftists in Eastern Ukraine Ready to Play Ethnic Card.