KIEV, Ukraine, July 14 (UPI) -- Ukraine and Romania are sparring over the ownership of a .065 square-mile islet in the Black Sea, 21.7 miles east of the Danube delta.
Ukraine insists that the territory is an island, while Romania maintains that Zmiyiny (Snake) Island is a rock.
The Kiev Post reported on July 13 that Ukraine in seeking to validate its claim has been trying to prove that it is actually an inhabitable island and is attempting to create a viable settlement on Zmiyiny.
Ukraine and Romania have disputed Zmiyiny island's sovereignty since 1998. Romania and Ukraine held 24 rounds of negotiations until 2004 when Romania brought the issue before the United Nations' International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
An August 2005 U.N. News Center press release said, "In discussion of the border line in the Black Sea, Ukraine and Romania have disagreed over the legal definition of the status of the Ukrainian island Zmiyiny, which the Romanian side considers a rock."
Under international law, if Zmiyiny island is adjudicated to be an island, then its territorial waters and the underlying continental shelf would be considered as Ukrainian territory when determining the maritime boundary between the two countries.
Romania's Foreign Affairs Ministry Communication Department Director Corina Vintan said a final decision regarding the status of the island is expected in 2008.
Upping the stakes, oil and gas deposits have been found under the Black Sea continental shelf, including near Zmiyiny island, which could complicate resolving the issue of the island's status.