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Ukraine's Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that Russia has been invited
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that Russia has been invited to start talks in June on the withdrawal of its fleet from the Crimea, but said Moscow has yet to reply to the proposal.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday that during Tuesday's meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukraine's Volodymyr Ohryzko in Moscow, the Ukrainian side handed Russia a draft memorandum outlining plans for Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. However, the ministry denied Ukraine's subsequent announcement that talks had already been fixed for June.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian ministry said: "During the meeting between the foreign ministers in Moscow, the Russian side was given a draft memorandum on the withdrawal of military units of the Russian Black Sea Fleet from Ukraine by May 28, 2017. The draft included an offer for bilateral consultations on this issue to begin in June. However, Russia has not yet given its agreement."

Russia's Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in the Crimea under a 1997 agreement allowing Russia to lease the base from ex-Soviet neighbor for $93 million per year, which is paid for by Moscow with Russian energy supplies.

Disputes between Russia and Ukraine over the lease of the base are frequent.

Last week, the head of the State Duma committee on CIS affairs, Alexei Ostrovsky, said that Russia could reclaim the Crimea if Ukraine was admitted to NATO. Media reported that President Vladimir Putin issued a similar threat at a closed-door speech to NATO leaders at the Bucharest summit earlier this month.


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