The United States and Ukraine risked irking Moscow by signing a strategic accord Friday that calls for a US diplomatic post in Crimea, a Russian-speaking area where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Ogryzko signed the "charter on strategic partnership" that the State Department calls a statement of US intent to "intensify our engagement with Ukraine."
The State Department said it outlines "enhanced cooperation" in the areas of defense, security, economics and trade, energy security, democracy, and cultural exchanges.
According to a copy of the document, "Ukraine welcomes the United States' intention to establish an American diplomatic presence (American Presence Post) in Simferopol," the capital of Crimea.
Such diplomatic posts are made up of one or two diplomats who do not perform consular duties.
In announcing the plans earlier, Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack said the administration of President George W. Bush, which hands over to that of president-elect Barack Obama on January 20, did not seek to provoke Russia.