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Kiev is not considering reneging on a deal regarding a Russian naval fleet stationed in Ukraine's Crimea
Kiev is not considering reneging on a deal regarding a Russian naval fleet stationed in Ukraine's Crimea, the country's foreign minister said Wednesday. The presence of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine has been a source of contention between the ex-Soviet neighbors, who clashed earlier this year over the ownership of lighthouses and Ukraine's demand for a hike in the rent Russia pays. Some politicians called for a review of the 1997 deal on the Black Sea Fleet. "Only proper observance of commitments and Ukrainian laws can be considered," Borys Tarasyuk said speaking in the country's parliament. Under a bilateral agreement signed by the Russian and Ukrainian leaders in 1997, the fleet is to remain in Sevastopol until 2017, at an annual rent of $93 million. But Ukrainian media have speculated that future deals on the base will be linked to the price Russia sets for natural gas supplied to Ukraine. "We must live and work in compliance with higher international standards, such as the ancient Roman principle that contracts must be respected," Tarasyuk said. "Breaking the contract on the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea has not been, and will not be, considered." Ukraine's leadership, which has committed itself through a national unity pact to pursue integration with NATO and the European Union, has said it wants Russia to withdraw from the peninsula when the accord expires. However, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, widely seen as a pro-Kremlin premier, called for a careful approach to the Russian fleet problem in early November, and warned against politicizing the issue. He conceded the possibility that the lease agreement for some of the fleet's facilities could be extended.
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