Ukraine wants Russian fleet out in 2017

15:37, 24 June 2008
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The issue is not a subject for discussion - Foreign Ministry

Ukraine insisted Tuesday the Russian Black Sea Fleet leave its Crimean base when a lease agreement expires in 2017, according to AP.

The comments were likely to aggravate a dispute that has become a sore point in already strained relations between the two ex-Soviet republics.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Vasyl Kyrylych said the Russian navy will not remain is Sevastopol beyond 2017 and the issue is not a subject for discussion.

On Monday, a top Russian official suggested that Russia might pay more or find other means of compensation to remain in Sevastopol.

Under the 1997 fleet agreement, which allows the Russian navy to remain in Sevastopol through 2017, Russia pays an annual rent fee of US$93 million (¤60 million) by writing off Ukraine`s national debt.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Karasin said Monday that Moscow was willing to be «constructive and flexible» in how it pays Ukraine.

The presence of the Russian navy in Sevaspotol is linked to tension over the Crimea, which was ceded to Ukraine during the Soviet era and became part of the independent Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Tensions over the naval base simmered this year after Ukraine requested a roadmap to NATO - a move strongly opposed by Russia.

AP, PR Inside

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