MOSCOW — The upper house of Russia's parliament Thursday publicly laid claim to Ukraine's Black Sea naval port of Sevastopol, saying it was part of Russia and Kiev had no legal right to govern it.
The Federation Council, in a move likely to cause a storm of protest in Kiev and further worsen mistrustful relations between the two governments, endorsed the demand that Ukraine surrender the city by a majority of 110 to 14.
There was no immediate reaction in Kiev to the claim, which is not binding on President Boris N. Yeltsin or the Russian government.
But it comes at a sensitive moment, with talks between Moscow and Kiev on Sevastopol and the disputed Black Sea Fleet deadlocked and with NATO expansion plans causing further tensions.
Yeltsin, 65, who is recuperating from quintuple bypass surgery, is also confronted by a 3-day-old coal miners' strike.
Senior Ukrainian officials have openly warned Moscow in the past month that Kiev may raise any Russian territorial claims at the United Nations and have pointedly begun saying they cannot rule out a possible application for North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership in the future.
Thursday's buildup in pressure from Moscow was likely to increase pro-Western and anti-Russian trends in Kiev.
"Unilateral actions by the Ukrainian side aimed at tearing away from Russia a part of its territory [Sevastopol] are not only illegal under international law but also directly damage Russia's security," the Federation Council resolution said.
The council also set up a special commission to prepare a draft law on the status of Sevastopol, a historic Russian naval base founded in the 1780s when Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula.