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Monday, May 19, 2008

Luzkhov, Run Amok

Reuters reports on more proof of Russia's friendly, benign intentions towards its neighbors:

Ukraine banned Moscow's mayor from the country on Monday after he called for Russia to take ownership of the Black Sea naval port of Sevastopol, a ban which immediately angered Russia. Rows over Kiev's ambitions to join NATO and the price of Russian gas to Ukraine have already dented relations between the two former-Soviet neighbors over the last few years. Ukraine's security service issued Monday's ban on Mayor Yuri Luzhkov the day after he told a crowd of supporters in Sevastopol celebrating the 225th anniversary of the foundation of the Black Sea fleet that Moscow should reclaim the base. Russia rents the Sevastopol base from Ukraine. The ban annoyed Russia's foreign ministry. "We qualify this decision by the Ukrainian authorities as an unfriendly move which runs against mutual efforts to build an atmosphere of confidence and mutual understanding in Russian-Ukrainian relations," the ministry said in a statement. The 18th century Russian Empress Catherine the Great established the base at Sevastopol but Ukraine inherited it in 1991 after the break up of the Soviet Union.

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