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Ukraine parliament to discuss Russian fleet pullout preparations

RIA Novosti

22/07/2008 20:41 KIEV, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - A bill on preparing for the Russian Black Sea Fleet's withdrawal from Ukraine's Crimea by 2017 is ready and will soon be submitted to the Ukrainian parliament, the country's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

"The bill is ready and will be submitted for consideration. We will now wait for the Supreme Rada to adopt this law," Volodymyr Ohryzko said.

Frequent disputes have flared up between Russia and Ukraine over the lease of naval facilities on the Crimean peninsula.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses the Sevastopol base under an agreement signed in 1997. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko recently decided not to extend the lease beyond May 28, 2017.

In early June, Russia's lower house of parliament adopted a resolution saying the Russian-Ukrainian cooperation treaty could be denounced if Ukraine joins NATO.

Ukraine's pro-Western leadership has been pursuing NATO membership since the 2004 election of President Viktor Yushchenko. Ukraine failed to secure an agreement on a NATO Membership Action Plan, a key step toward joining the alliance, at the organization's summit in April, but was told the decision would be reviewed in December.

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