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21 may 2010 12:52 Russia, Ukraine fail to agree on maritime border demarcation
Russia and Ukraine on Monday failed to come to an agreement on the maritime border between the two countries in the Kerch Strait, which has remained undemarcated since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The agreement on the issue is crucial for the potential introduction of visa-free travel for Ukainian visitors to the European Union.

"This time, we failed to come to an agreement on this decision because there was not much time. But we will continue working on this issue and I think that we will come to a decision in the near future," Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych said after talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, RIA Novosti reported.

The two states will set up a special commission to deal with the issue.

The maritime border between the two states in the Kerch Strait which links the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea, has long been a bone of contention between the two states.

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.

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.

Russia remained committed to an agreement on the joint use of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait signed in 2003 by then Russian President Vladimir Putin and his then Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma. Under the agreement, the sea and the strait remain the territorial waters of both Russia and Ukraine.