Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France said Tuesday that Moscow had been issuing Russian passports in Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based, AFP reported. “We all know that they are handing out Russian passports over there,” Mr. Kouchner said in an interview with Kommersant, a Russian online newspaper.
The government of Ukraine has said it wants the fleet to leave the Crimean base in Sevastopol when its lease runs out in 2017. But the Russian naval authorities have indicated that they want to retain the base. Mr. Kouchner said Russia might try to make advances in Crimea after the success of its military operations in Georgia in August.