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Ukraine/Russia: Kuchma Rejects Russian Objections Over Planes Ban

Moscow, April 4, 1997 (RFE/RL) - Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma today dismissed Russian objections over Kyiv's decision to prohibit Russian military planes from overflying Ukraine's territory.

Kyiv put the ban into effect Tuesday after Ukrainian officials said Russian jets had illegally entered the country's airspace last week while seven NATO ships were docked at the Ukrainian port of Odessa. Russian officials deny any wrongdoing, saying the planes were flying over international waters.

Kuchma said today he did not understand the concern expressed by Russian officials. He said Russia had forced down three of Ukraine's military jets when they strayed into Russian territory in the past.

Today, our correspondent in Kyiv quoted military officials as saying Ukraine reserves the rights to shoot down any Russian jet violating the indefinite ban.