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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foreign Ministry Contradicts Reports of Agreement on Fleet

The Foreign Ministry on Sunday denied reports that Moscow and Kiev had reached a final understanding on the division and basing of the Black Sea Fleet and that President Boris Yeltsin would soon visit Kiev.

"Such information did not come to the Russian Foreign Ministry," a senior ministry official told Interfax.

He was responding to earlier remarks by Black Sea Fleet Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, who said in Sevastopol that the troublesome questions of how to divide and where to base the Black Sea fleet had been settled, and that Yeltsin's long delayed visit to Kiev would therefore take place "shortly, possibly even before May 9."

"I do not know what grounds the admiral had for his statements," said the official, "but if something of this kind had taken place, we would, obviously, know this right away."

The diplomat said the Foreign Ministry had not received any orders on urgent preparations for a Yeltsin visit to Ukraine.

"Neither President Yeltsin nor Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, as far as we know, intend to go to Kiev in the near future," he told Interfax on Sunday.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Gennady Udovenko told Interfax that "it is technically impossible to prepare a visit in two days," and added that Ukraine does not link the Yeltsin visit with the ultimate settlement of the Black Sea Fleet issue.

At the same time, said Udovenko, "Russia does not understand our position, and consistently sticks to the following line: The resolution of the fleet issue will open the path to the visit."

Russia has insisted that it be given sole control of Sevastopol, where the fleet is based.

Speaking to veterans in Sevastopol on Saturday, Kravchenko said that Sevastopol must be the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. He described as unnatural the basing of both the Black Sea Fleet and of the Ukrainian Navy within the limits of Sevastopol.