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Ukraine to set market-based rent for Russian Black Sea Fleet

KIEV, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine intends to raise the rent for the Black Sea ports and facilities used by the Russian fleet from the current $93 million annually to the market-based figure that could run into $1.8 billion, a senior official said Thursday.

Against the backdrop of a dispute over a lighthouse and other facilities on the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula, Anatoliy Kinakh, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said he had instructed relevant agencies Wednesday to calculate the rent for the Russian Black Sea Fleet according to modern market conditions.

The Russian fleet is using a range of naval facilities in the Crimea under a 1997 agreement that divided the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, but allowed Russia to continue its presence in the Ukrainian autonomy in exchange for $93 million per year in rent.

Kinakh cited the national committee for land resources, which said that in accordance with modern standards and considering the size of the rented area, the Russian fleet should be paying at least $1.8 billion a year.

Kinakh also said many rented facilities were not included in the 1997 basic agreements and their supplements, as initial inventory had shown.

Kinakh, however, said Ukraine did not intend to revise the term of the lease, laid down in the documents.

A series of incidents involving the Russian fleet and its facilities have marred bilateral relations in recent months. On January 14, Ukrainian officials seized a lighthouse belonging to the Black Sea Fleet in a move that many Russian politicians saw as a response to a heated tug of war between the neighboring countries over natural gas prices. Russian energy giant Gazprom turned off supplies to Ukraine January 1 after the latter refused to pay market prices for Russian natural gas. The dispute was officially ended on January 4 with the signing of an agreement, but tensions have continued.

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