Russia terminates Black Sea fleet agreements with Ukraine

Moscow, March 31: The Russian parliament Monday approved a bill terminating a number of agreements with Ukraine over the Black Sea fleet.

“As a result of the treaty signed between Russia and the Republic of Crimea March 18, about Crimea’s accession to Russia, the subject of the Russia-Ukraine agreements has been nullified due to factual end of legal lease by Russia of its Black Sea Fleet’s facilities in Ukraine,” the State Duma or the lower house of the parliament said in a statement.

Under a gas-for-fleet deal signed in April 2010, Russia agreed to a 30 percent price drop for gas supplies to Ukraine in exchange for extending its lease of the naval base in Sevastopol for 25 more years.

The Duma voted unanimously to terminate three agreements signed in 1997 and the one in 2010, citing the Vienna Convention of 1969 which gives Moscow a right to cancel international agreements, Xinhua reported.

The Black Sea fleet’s status would be regulated by Russian laws from now on as the Sevastopol naval base has become Russian territory, though major Western powers refused to recognise it.

Moreover, Moscow would discuss legal and financial issues resulting from the agreements’ termination only with Ukraine’s future legitimate authorities, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said.

“We’ll be ready to discuss these questions with Ukraine’s government hopefully to be formed in a democratic, constitutional way,” Karasin told the Duma.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders signed a treaty March 18 for Crimea to become part of Russia.

IANS