UKRAINE WANTS EXPLANATION OF LUKASHENKA STATEMENT. Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Deputy Secretary Alexander Razumkov has said Ukraine wants Belarus to explain a recent statement by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Interfax reported on 24 July. Lukashenka said two days earlier that Ukraine has failed to implement bilateral agreements reached by the two countries' presidents in Gomel, western Belarus, in the spring and that he intends to introduce "tight customs and border control measures" on the border with Ukraine because economic cooperation between the two countries at present "is not being developed appropriately." According to Lukashenka, Russia will impose the same regime on the border with Ukraine. "If Ukraine wants to become a sovereign country, let it be so, but not at our expense," Lukashenka had commented. Razumkov said that Ukraine has "every reason to ask on what grounds the president of a third country made a statement about a possible change of regime on the UkrainianRussian border."

UKRAINE RECEIVES SIX WARSHIPS FROM RUSSIA. Russia has handed over to Ukraine six out of the 11 Black Sea Fleet warships it is due to receive, as the two countries complete the second stage of the division of the fleet, the Ukrainian Navy's press service told ITARTASS on 24 July. Kyiv has already received 12 out of 30 auxiliary vessels and 10 shore installations out of some 100 that it has been allocated. Under the division plan, the last warship is to be handed over to Ukraine before 25 July. The deadline for completing the division is 1 August.

UKRAINE, LATVIA PLEDGE TO INCREASE TRADE TIES. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadi Udovenko, during his visit to Riga on 24 July, promised increased trade ties with Latvia, including the development of a Black Sea-Baltic Sea transport corridor, BNS reported. Udovenko discussed opportunities for boosting bilateral trade at a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele. Together with his Latvian counterpart, Valdis Birkavs, Udovenko signed bilateral agreements on the mutual protection of investments, the readmission of illegal immigrants, and visa requirements for both countries. Udovenko is scheduled to meet with Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves in Tallinn on 25 July.

DETAILS ON DRAFT SETTLEMENT OF TIRASPOL-CHISINAU CONFLICT. According to BASA-press on 24 July, the draft agreement proposed by the Joint Control Commission for a final settlement of the conflict in Moldova gives the Transdniester breakaway region the right to have its own constitution, parliament, flag, state symbols, and anthem. The official languages in the Transdniester would be Moldovan, Russian, and Ukrainian. Alluding to what Tiraspol perceives as the danger of reunification with Romania, the draft gives the Transdniester the right of self-determination if Moldova loses its independence. The draft also says Tiraspol would participate in foreign-policy making, security decisions affecting the breakaway region, and decisions on Moldova's budget (while maintaining its own budget). The region is also to decide its own structure of local government.