Russia`s leadership intends to increase its contribution to the development of the Ukrainian Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, the Russian Foreign Minister said on Thursday, according to RIA Novosti.The port on the Crimean peninsula, where the main base of Russia`s Black Sea Fleet is stationed, is the focus of an ongoing dispute between Moscow and Kyiv. Ukraine wants to set a deadline for Russia`s lease of naval facilities in the Crimea, while some senior Russian officials have questioned Ukraine`s right to sovereignty over Sevastopol.
Sergei Lavrov, speaking after a ceremony to lay wreaths at a memorial to Sevastopol`s war heroes outside the Kremlin in Moscow, said: "The leadership of the Russian Federation, the fleet, and the Defense Ministry are contributing to developing the infrastructure of Sevastopol, and the current plans foresee an increase in this contribution."
He said a delegation of high-ranking Russian government officials will leave for Sevastopol on June 14 to take part in the city`s 225th anniversary celebrations.
Late last month, Sergei Mironov, speaker of the upper house of Russia`s parliament, said Russia could claim back Sevastopol.
"Undoubtedly, we must raise the issue ourselves, and if necessary, with the Ukrainian authorities," Mironov told reporters commenting Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko`s decision not to extend lease terms for Russia`s Black Sea Fleet after May 28, 2017.