Moscow and Kiev try to end fleet dispute

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The Independent Online
YALTA (Reuter) - Russian and Ukrainian leaders meet today in Yalta, site of a 1945 conference that sealed Kremlin authority through Eastern Europe, in an effort to carve up the crumbling legacy of Soviet power.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Ukrainian leader Leonid Kravchuk are under heavy pressure from the military to settle a dispute over ownership of the Commonwealth-controlled Black Sea Fleet, built up as Soviet imperial strength grew after the Second World War.

Russia and Ukraine differ over a share-out of the ships and port facilities of the fleet - about the size of the British Navy but largely outdated. Passions run high also over who should control the home base port of Sevastopol, on the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula but populated largely by Russians.

As well as the issue of the Black Sea Fleet, Mr Kravchuk and Mr Yeltsin are expected to discuss details of a joint Commonwealth peace-keeping force to quell unrest in troubled areas of the former Union.

A Russian-Georgian force appears to have succeeded in stifling conflict in the rebel Georgian region of South Ossetia, where hundreds have been killed in fighting this year.

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