On Jan. 19 Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged Russia not to contravene the provisions of the agreement on the status and conditions pertaining to the stationing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine, specifically those concerning the location of the Russian military. Ukraine’s foreign ministry has forwarded a note in this connection to the Russian Federation. The reason for such a reaction on Kyiv’s part was an incident that occurred near the Sarych lighthouse: the fleet command denied an equipment team access to the premises, and a Russian armored personnel carrier was quickly summoned from Sevastopol and stationed behind the fence. Can the lighthouse crisis be settled in the nearest future? Not likely. The first session of the Ukrainian-Russian commission, created to resolve issues relating to the stationing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet on the territory of Ukraine, is scheduled for mid-February.
During the remaining three weeks the lighthouse dispute may produce a number of unpleasant surprises. It is true that Ukraine is acting in strict accordance with international legal provisions, and Kyiv has the right to conduct an inventory of property being used by the Russian military. Ukrainian diplomats, however, are perfectly aware that Moscow is prepared to resort to any, even the harshest possible measures, even unlawful ones, to protect its interests in the region. This is precisely why a number of observers believe that Ukraine is deliberately confronting Russia. It is also possible that Kyiv has not used all diplomatic mechanisms to prevent any excesses. It is very dangerous that diplomats from other countries are beginning to lean toward this opinion. An official representing an influential EU country told The Day off the record that Kyiv’s anti-Russian hysteria may damage Ukraine’s integration into NATO (at this moment the alliance’s member countries are deliberating Ukraine’s accession to the membership action plan). “What makes us wary is that Kyiv and Moscow do not seemed inclined to establish neighborly relations,” said the diplomat. Apparently, the Ukrainian government is hard put to come to any agreements with the Kremlin, which took a dim view of the revolutionary changes in Ukraine. Russia is trying to play an increasingly important role in Ukraine’s domestic political and electoral field by “adding fuel to the fire” of inter-state conflicts. Should official Kyiv abet the trouble stirred up by the Russians? Ukraine managed to gain the support of the international community during the gas conflict, but this does not mean that the same thing will happen with the lighthouse situation.