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Leader
28 Dec 03,, 04:53
Russia, Ukraine aim to end row

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39483000/jpg/_39483523_causeway_story_ap.jpg
Ukraine has been marking its borders

The presidents of Ukraine and Russia have signed a deal on mutual use of the Azov Sea in an attempt to resolve a border dispute in the key Kerch Strait.
The framework agreement allows for joint use of the strait and proposes to delimit sea borders.

But reports that the talks focused on the row over the tiny island of Tuzla were denied by Russian officials.

A top Kremlin official said the dispute over the strategically placed island was not directly discussed.

Ukrainian troops have been stationed on Tuzla island following Russian moves to build a sea dyke to the island.

The dispute over Tuzla - in a channel between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea - raised fears of an armed confrontation between Ukraine and Russia earlier this year.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39672000/gif/_39672063_crimea_map203.gif

'No dispute'

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma met in Crimea, near the island, on Wednesday.

The agreement said the Azov Sea was considered an internal body of water by the two countries, meaning that both Moscow and Kiev must agree before military ships from third parties can enter the sea.

Mr Kuchma said the sea would be divided according to borders, stressing that he and Mr Putin "agreed on principles of delimitation".

However, it was not immediately clear how the Azov Sea - with its busy shipping routes and rich fishing resources - would be divided.

At the moment, the two countries still use the administrative boundaries dating from the days of the Soviet Union, which ceased to exist in 1991.

On the controversial issue of Tuzla, Mr Putin's senior foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko said "the question... was not discussed", according to the Russian RIA Novosti news agency.

"There is no such dispute in Russo-Ukrainian relations," he added.

The BBC's Helen Fawkes, in Kiev, said the stand-off started in September, when building work began on a causeway to link southern Russia to Tuzla in the Kerch Strait.

Moscow said the project was designed to prevent coastal erosion - but Ukraine feared the Kremlin was trying to increase its territory.

The Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution describing Russia's actions as an unfriendly act.

The situation escalated when Ukraine laid tank traps on the island and held air and sea exercises nearby.

Border guards are now stationed on the isle.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3347023.stm

Ironduke
30 Dec 03,, 07:50
If the Russians built a land bridge from Taman Peninsula to Tuzla Island, that would leave a very narrow neck of water to pass out of the Sea of Azov.