The dispute between Ukraine and Russia over the demarcation of the Kerch Strait remains one of the unresolved issues in bilateral relations, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said on Monday.

"The issue of the demarcation of the Kerch Strait remains unresolved," Yanukovych said at a meeting with Speaker of the Russian Federation Council Sergei Mironov, RIA Novosti reported. "There are several proposals on both sides, but they do not meet our interests."

The border between the two states in the strait linking the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea has been a bone of contention between the two countries since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The agreement on the issue is crucial for the potential introduction of visa-free travel for Ukrainians to the European Union.

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 and called for shared use of the Kerch Strait.

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 spit connecting the island. Ukraine accused Russia of encroaching on its territory.


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