Ukraine ready to defend itself from Russia

Specific measures to protect the national interests of Ukraine and prevent any encroachment on Ukrainian territory were confirmed at a special assembly of the Ukrainian Council for National Security and Defense, which took place yesterday and was chaired by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. At the assembly they spoke of the dam that is being built by Russia in the Kerch peninsula, Press Secretary to the President Alyona Gromnitskaya told Ukrainian news agency Obozrevatel.

Council members decided that similar steps by Russia could affect the boundary limitations on the coast of the Azov sea and the Kerch peninsula as well as upset the ecological balance in the region.

However, they also expressed their hope that Ukraine would understand the Russian position and that the difficult situation would be resolved 'in a neighbourly and respectful way without ignoring international legal norms.'

Mr Kuchma is also hoping that a peaceful solution will be found. 'I am sure that the Ukrainian border will not be infringed upon. On the other hand, I can not deny that Russia is acting in an unneighbourly way towards Ukraine. Good neighbours do not do such things,' he told journalists. He stressed that Ukraine's 'voluntary' decision not to make nuclear weapons was taken under pressure, including pressure from Russia. 'We gave up our weapons and they took on the role of our guarantors. Now Russia is the guarantor of Ukraine's territorial integrity. So why do such things?' he asked. However, the president does not believe that Ukraine will have to appeal to any international organisations. 'We can sort this out in bilateral negotiations. However, it will still remain in the history of our relations with Russia and this saddens me,' he added.

Alexander Mosiyuk, a member of the Ukrainian People's party, thinks otherwise. In his opinion, 'the deployment of special Russian forces on Ukrainian territory may be a specially organised form of provocation.' He suggested that Russia might seize the island of Tuzla before the planned visit of Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to Ukraine on October 30. He added that this might take place as soon as the dam crosses the Ukrainian border. Yesterday morning only about 500 metres separated the dam from the border. 'It is possible that the Russian State Duma will announce at the same time that Tuzla is now Russian territory just as it did with Sevastopol in 1994. Unlike in 1994, however, when President Yeltsin condemned the State Duma's decision and Russia supported Ukraine's bid to join the UN Security Council, Vladimir Putin will not support us,' Mr Musiuk's commentary runs. Having established de facto control over the Kerch peninsula, Russia will effectively take control of the Azov sea and further talks about the coastal boundary between Russia and Ukraine will already be irrelevant, he said.

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