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Ukrainian Border Guards Preparing To Spend Winter At Tuzla Island

Ukrainian border guards will continue to perform their service duties on the Tuzla Island in the Kerch Strait, spokesman for the Azov-Black-Sea regional department of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service Serhiy Piddubny told Interfax on Wednesday.

"The Ukrainian border guards on the island are preparing for winter. They were given sleeping bags as it has become colder, and stoves have been installed in their tents and huts. No new orders have been issued to the Ukrainian border guards," Piddubny said.

The spokesman also said Russia is continuing to reinforce the dam stretching towards Tuzla Island in the Kerch Strait.

Meanwhile, another source with the Ukrainian Border Service said a suction-tube dredger is continuing to work near the island to prevent erosion. "Tuzla Island began to erode because the currents changed direction after the Russians started building the dam," he said.

On October 24, Russian and Ukrainian Prime Ministers Mikhail Kasyanov and Viktor Yanukovych were reported to have reached an agreement in Moscow, under which Russia would suspend construction of the dam, while Ukraine would remove the border guards from the island until the two countries reach a comprehensive agreement on the strait's status.

On October 28, Kasyanov insisted that a principled agreement had been reached with Ukraine that tied the suspension of the dam's construction to the withdrawal of the Ukrainian border guards.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Cabinet press service denied earlier this week that Kasyanov and Yanukovych had agreed on the withdrawal of the Ukrainian border guards.

(Interfax 31.x.03)

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