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06KIEV1912, UKRAINE/RUSSIA: NO PROGRESS ON BLACK SEA FLEET

May 17, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1912 2006-05-17 15:39 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
VZCZCXRO8192
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #1912/01 1371539
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171539Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIEV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9358
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 001912 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/17/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR PINR RS UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE/RUSSIA: NO PROGRESS ON BLACK SEA FLEET 
NEGOTIATIONS 

REF: 05 KIEV 4539 

Classified By: Political Counselor Aubrey Carlson for reasons 1.4(b,d) 

1. (C) Summary:  First Deputy Foreign Minister Volodymyr 
Ohryzko told Kiev-based diplomats May 12 that the May 4 
second meeting of the Ukraine-Russia sub-commission on the 
Russian Black Sea Fleet made no progress.  The Ukrainians 
have asked to conduct a joint inventory of real property 
occupied and used by the Russian Black Sea Fleet, but the 
Russians are stonewalling.  Once the inventory is completed, 
the Ukrainian government can begin to assess its value and 
propose a rental charge based on market prices.  Ohryzko said 
the next sub-commission session would take place in July or 
August in Sevastopol and the Ukrainian side would present 
"practical" proposals that would force the Russians to begin 
respecting requirements of Ukrainian law.  Dismissing Russian 
talk of creating an alternative base for the Russian Black 
Sea Fleet on Russian territory, Ohryzko nonetheless said the 
Ukrainian government would notify Russia of its intent to 
terminate the basing arrangement in 2017 and propose 
discussions to allow for the orderly withdrawal of the 
Russian Black Sea Fleet from the Crimean peninsula.  Russian 
President Putin would not visit Kiev until the next Ukrainian 
prime minister and speaker of parliament have been installed. 
 End summary. 

General Principles 
------------------ 

2. (C) Deputy Foreign Minister Ohryzko invited EU, Japanese, 
Canadian, and U.S. embassy representatives May 12 for an 
update on Ukrainian-Russian May 4 discussions in Moscow on 
the basing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF).  The 
"sub-commission on the functioning of the Russian Black Sea 
Fleet on the territory of Ukraine" (BSF sub-commission) had 
met for only the second time, after the initial February 14, 
2006 meeting in Kiev.  Before providing his briefing, Ohryzko 
said he wanted to make some basic points.  First of all, 
Article 17 of the Ukrainian Constitution prohibited the 
stationing of military bases on Ukrainian soil, although 
Paragraph 14 of the transitional arrangements provided for 
the temporary basing of foreign military forces under the 
provisions of international agreements ratified by parliament 
(Rada).  The Rada, in May 1997, had ratified three basic 
agreements allowing the stationing of the Russian Black Sea 
Fleet in Ukraine, but the agreements only allowed facilities 
to be rented to the BSF until May 2017.  Furthermore, the 
basic agreements required the Russians to use Ukrainian 
property only in compliance with Ukrainian law and limited 
their use of real property to the ones specified in the 
agreements. 

Infrequent and Unproductive Meetings 
------------------------------------ 

3. (C) Ohryzko noted the BSF sub-commission, established 
under the rubric of the Yushchenko-Putin inter-state 
commission, had working groups to work on five specific 
issues related to the stationing of the Russian Black Sea 
Fleet: 

-- The inventory of plots of land and state property used by 
the Russian Black Sea Fleet; 
-- Naval security; 
-- Ecological security and environmental protection; 
-- Legal functioning of BSF units; and 
-- Other international and political issues. 

4. (C) Ohryzko said he headed the Ukrainian delegation to the 
BSF sub-commission, while his counterpart was Russian Deputy 
Foreign Minister Karasin.  Only the working group on the 
inventory of real estate and property used by the BSF was 
actively meeting.  During the initial February 14 meeting, 
the Ukrainian side had presented its proposal for conducting 
the inventory, but now, Ohryzko noted, the Russian side was 
dragging its feet, repeatedly raising the same questions on 
the purpose and conduct of the inventory.  Since the February 
14 first meeting, the Ukrainian side had sent seven official 
notes to the Russians with various proposals but not received 
any reply. 

5. (U) Note:  In November 2005, the media reported the 
Ukrainian members of the bilateral commission would be 
President Yushchenko; Prime Minister Yekhanurov; the Foreign, 
Defense, and Education Ministers; National Security and 
Defense Council Secretary Kinakh; and Ohryzko.  Yekhanurov 
would chair the sub-commission on economic cooperation; 
Defense Minister Hrytsenko, the sub-commission on security; 

KIEV 00001912  002 OF 003 

and Foreign Minister Tarasyuk, the sub-commission on 
international cooperation.  With Ohryzko on BSF 
sub-commission would be First Deputy Defense Minister 
Polyakov, the Deputy Head of the State Committee for 
Construction and Architecture, the Sevastopol prosecutor, the 
Naval Forces commander, the deputy head of the State Property 
Fund, and representatives of the Sevastopol city 
administration, the Border Service, the Customs Service, the 
Finance Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Environment 
Ministry, the state-run river mapping organization, the 
Foreign Ministry, and the Security Service
 of Ukraine. 

Numerous Violations 
------------------- 

6. (C) Ohryzko said, once a joint inventory was conducted, 
the Ukrainian side hoped to renegotiate the Russian BSF rent, 
which, currently at $97 million per year, was far out of line 
with market pricing.  The Ukrainians had proposed that a 
joint inventory be conducted of all establishments and plots 
of land used by the Russian Black Sea Fleet to determine 
their current condition.  The Ukrainian government calculated 
that the Russian Black Sea Fleet was using 25 plots of land 
and more than 185 buildings, occupying more than 150 hectares 
of Ukrainian soil, without proper authorization because they 
were not listed in the BSF agreement annex.  The Russian 
Black Sea Fleet was also conducting unauthorized activity, 
such as subleasing properties to be operated as restaurants, 
from some of the properties. 

7. (C) Ohryzko charged that the Russians were also operating 
more than 35 navigational aids (note: such as lighthouses, 
buoys, channel markers, etc.) in violation of Ukrainian law, 
which stated such navigational aids were Ukrainian property. 
The lack of Ukrainian control over the navigational aids 
meant that Ukraine was unable to meet its international 
obligations to ensure safety of maritime traffic in its 
territorial waters.  Other Russian Black Sea Fleet violations 
included the excessive use of Russian national symbols and 
the operation of a prosecutor's office and military courts on 
Ukrainian territory. 

The Way Forward 
--------------- 

8. (C) Ohryzko said the sub-commission was next due to meet 
in July or August in Sevastopol.  The Ukrainian government 
would work out a number of proposals to simplify the 
inventory procedure for the Russians.  Ohryzko also said the 
Ukrainians would present a number of practical steps "to 
demonstrate that Ukraine will not allow violations of 
Ukrainian law," but he refused to specify the nature of the 
steps when asked. 

9. (C) Responding to a Swedish diplomat's question, Ohryzko 
said he and his colleagues had noted Russian media reports 
that Moscow was preparing alternative Black Sea Fleet 
facilities in Novorossiysk.  Ohryzko discounted these 
reports, saying that such reports alternated with Russian 
military officials' statements regarding their intent to stay 
on in Sevastopol after 2017.  Later in the meeting, Ohryzko 
said the Ukrainian government intended to present an official 
notification in 2007 to the Russian side of its intent to 
terminate Russian Black Sea Fleet basing arrangements and 
propose the initiation of discussions on the Russian Black 
Sea Fleet's departure.  The Ukrainian government understood 
that the Russian Black Sea Fleet's transfer would not be an 
overnight process, but would require several years and should 
be carried out in an orderly process. 

No Putin Visit Soon 
------------------- 

10. (C) Responding to a question, Ohryzko said the Ukrainian 
government had invited Russian President Putin to Kiev a 
number of times.  For the moment, Moscow was taking the 
position that a Putin visit could not take place until a new 
Ukrainian prime minister and parliamentary speaker had been 
designated and were in place.  Ohryzko said he hoped that 
during a Putin visit all aspects of the Ukraine-Russia 
bilateral relationship would be discussed, including the 
stationing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. 

Comment 
------- 

11. (C) While Ohryzko provided little information not already 
in media reports, his candid comments underscored Ukrainian 
frustration over the lack of progress in negotiations between 

KIEV 00001912  003 OF 003 

Ukraine and Russia not just on the Russian Black Sea fleet 
but on a range of issues between the two countries.  (Reftel 
relays MFA 1st Territorial Department Adomaitis' earlier 
frustration over Russian intransigence on the Russian Black 
Sea Fleet.) 

12. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Herbst

 

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