MOSCOW, April 1 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow has terminated without denouncing the bilateral agreements with Ukraine providing for the basing of the Black Sea Fleet, a senior Russian official said Tuesday.
Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, voted to end the Black Sea Fleet agreements with Ukraine. A discount on natural gas to Ukraine that had been part of the deal has also been canceled.
“I present to you the bill introduced in the parliament by President Vladimir Putin, which ends a series of agreements regulating the status and activities of the Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said.
“I want to note that we are talking about ending the agreement, not denouncing it,” he added.
The Russian Black Sea fleet is headquartered in Sevastopol, a city with a special status within Crimea. As part of the agreements on its basing rights, Russia paid the Ukrainian government $530 million annually for the base, and wrote off nearly $100 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters.
The draft law on terminating the Black Sea Fleet deal was introduced in the State Duma by President Vladimir Putin on March 28 following Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
The reunification of Crimea with Russia was finalized last month, following a referendum in the republic and an appeal to Moscow to rejoin the country after having been undemocratically gifted to Ukraine by Soviet leaders 60 years ago.
The referendum was held after a Western-backed coup in Kiev ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and led to a new government with far-right elements that amended the country’s constitution and called for early presidential elections on May 25.
Russia has described the uprising in Kiev as an illegitimate fascist coup and a military seizure of power, which resulted in Moscow taking steps to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine, including the reunification of Crimea.