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Russia, Ukraine not seeking changes to Black Sea Fleet deal

RIA Novosti

14:21 23/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti) - Neither Russia nor Ukraine are seeking to revise the terms of an agreement on the presence of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea, the countries' foreign ministers said on Friday.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine's Crimea, including the base in Sevastopol, as part of a 1997 lease agreement valid until 2017.

"Moscow is not proposing to revise the basic agreements on the Black Sea Fleet. We did not hear today suggestions from the Ukrainian side in this respect, either," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a meeting in Moscow with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko.

"I would like assure you with all responsibility that Kiev as much as Moscow does not want a revision of fundamental agreements on the Black Sea Fleet," Petro Poroshenko said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has led calls for Russia to prepare to withdraw its fleet from Ukraine's territory when the agreement expires in 2017, although Russia hopes to extend the lease.

A Russian-Ukrainian subcommittee on the Black Sea Fleet at the level of deputy foreign ministers holds regular meetings to discuss the implementation of 1997 agreement.

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