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RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER AGAIN LINKS KOSOVA, GEORGIAN REGIONS. Defense Minister Ivanov was quoted in "Izvestia" of November 9 as saying that independence for Kosova will be a powerful precedent for South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He added that "it is hard to say how events will develop [regarding the two Georgian breakaway regions]. But much will depend on how the West behaves on the question of recognizing [an independent] Kosovo." President Putin recently hinted that he might veto Kosovar independence in the UN Security Council unless Western countries agree to South Ossetia and Abkhazia breaking away from Georgia. Under the 1974 Serbian and Yugoslav constitutions, Kosova had a legal status that was virtually equal to those of the six federal Yugoslav republics. All six federal republics have now gone separate ways, starting with Slovenia and Croatia in 1991 and ending with Montenegro in 2006 (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," October 27, 2006). But South Ossetia never had rights comparable to those of union republics like the Georgian SSR or Ukrainian SSR, while Abkhazia was downgraded from a full-fledged union republic to an ASSR in 1931. PM/LF

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS UKRAINE. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Borys Tarasyuk, in Kyiv on November 8. He also met with President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, and parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz, Ukrainian media reported. The talks and meetings have reportedly brought no substantial progress on sensitive issues in bilateral relations, including the delimitation of the border in the Azov Sea, the use of the Russian language in Ukraine, or the presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. Lavrov and Tarasyuk were also unable to determine the date of an anticipated trip by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Kyiv. JM

USE OF TAP WATER IN CRIMEAN PORT RESTRICTED. A water supply company in the port of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula on November 9 issued a warning restricting the use of tap water in the city, Ukrainian media reported. The company warned against using water for drinking or cooking meals, stressing that it can only be used for technical purposes because of the deterioration of its quality in a local reservoir. According to city officials, the quality of water deteriorated due to the recent "worsening of weather and floods" on a local river. Meanwhile, a number of Sevastopol residents told Interfax that water supply in the city has been suspended altogether since the morning of November 9. There have been rumors among local residents that some chemicals were dumped into the water reservoir by the Russian Black Sea Fleet deployed in the port. JM