The Russian Black Sea fleet has been based in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula since 1784.
The terms of the agreement Moscow has just signed with Kiev means it may well remain there at least until 2042. After Ukraine’s declaration of independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin promised Russia would withdraw from the naval base by 2017. Some 16,000 sailors are stationed there. In return Russia pays Ukraine 70 million euros in rent each year.
The controversial extension of the lease is being seen by opponents as Ukraine once again coming under Russia’s sphere of influence.
1:39 visite Yanukovich a Medvedev 6-03-10
Relations between the two nations had been deteriorating since the Orange revolution in 2004. But Viktor Yanukovich’s triumph in this year’s presidential election in Ukraine signalled a new era. A rapprochement. A week later Yanukovich was visiting his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow.
2:02 sot Dmitry Medvedev
“I expect that with the appointment of a new president in Ukraine, relations between our countries will assume a new dynamic.”
2:13 tuyaux gas
The new dynamic involved the renegotiation of the price of transiting Russian gas. Since the estrangement of the two countries, Ukraine had been paying high European prices for the privilege
2:24 graphique prix du gas
But thanks to the new accord, Ukraine will now be paying 30 per cent less than the market price for Russia’s natural gas.
Having used Sevastopol as a bargaining chip… Yanukovich has secured a deal which will free up a nine billion euro IMF loan designed to help kick-start an economy with a plunging Gross Domestic Product and rampant inflation. What’s more, from 2017 Russia will be paying 75 million euros in rent – a five million euro annual increase – for the Sevastopol naval base after 2017.