Ukraine Ratifies Border Demarcation Agreement With Russia

KIEV, Ukraine -- The Ukrainian parliament ratified on Thursday an agreement on the demarcation of the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian Parliament

A total of 347 lawmakers out of the 425 registered at the parliamentary session voted in favor of the agreement, with 266 votes required for the document's ratification.

Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement to define the border during President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Ukraine in May, sparking fierce criticism from Ukraine's opposition.

The agreement on the issue, which is crucial for the potential introduction of visa-free travel for Ukrainians to the European Union, was signed by the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers on May 17.

The border between the two states in the strait linking the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea has been a bone of contention between the two states since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine unilaterally established a maritime border with Russia in the 1990s, saying it was based on the Soviet-era administrative border between the two republics.

Russia has repeatedly denied the existence of Soviet administrative borders.

In the summer of 2003, a bitter dispute broke out between Russia and Ukraine over the Tuzla Island in the middle of the Kerch Strait, which came to a head when Russia tried to construct a dam on the island.

Ukraine accused Russia of encroaching on its territory.

In December of that year, then Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma signed an agreement on the joint use of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait.

Under the agreement, the sea and the strait remain the territorial waters of both Russia and Ukraine.

Source: RIA Novosti