The Ukrainian port of Sevastopol is the latest potential clash point between Russia and its neighbours.
Moscow’s decision to recognise Georgia’s two rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, has angered Ukraine so much that it threatened to raise the rent it charges for the naval base used by Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
Ukraine’s pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko made the rent increase threat as British Foreign Secretary David Miliband visited Kiev.
Miliband and Yushchenko both called the Russian decision “unacceptable.”
Yushchenko wants to be able to blunt the Russian bear’s claws. He said: “We don’t intend to allow the (Russian) military, which could be used in action or aggression against another country, to use our territory as a base.”
But Yushchenko cannot kick out Russia’s Black Sea fleet from the strategic port in the Crimea in southern Ukraine because there is a lease between the two countries that runs for another nine years.
In addition, many of those who live in the Crimea are ethnic Russians who turned out to cheer ships from the Black Sea Fleet that were used to land troops in Georgia and patrol its waters.