Russia Cancels Military Agreements with Kiev
Russia’s Lower House has overturned four bilateral agreements with Ukraine regulating the stay of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. The law in effect, supported by 443 deputies, was sent to parliament by President Vladimir Putin as a consequence of the annexation of that Ukrainian territory by Moscow. A majority of the Crimean expressed their desire to become part of Russia through a referendum last 16 March, after Russian troops took control of key parts of the peninsula.
The law passed by the Lower House affects the division of the Black Sea Fleet of the former USSR, an agreement in existence since May 28, 1997, as well as the agreement on the status and conditions of stationing a Russian fleet in Ukraine. The House also voted on canceling an agreement on the economic calculations of the division, both with the same date as the first.
These three documents, dated from the time when Boris Yeltsin was president of Russia, are added to another agreement that prolongs the stay of the Russian Black Sea fleet for 25 years, which was signed in Kharkiv by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Viktor Yanukovych in April, 2010. This agreement meant that, instead of retiring in 2017, as decided in 1997, the Russian fleet in Crimea could stay in their main base in Sevastopol until 2042, and possibly extend the presence for five more years until 2047.
Grigori Karasin, Deputy Foreign Minister, who defended the law in parliament, said that “since March 18, 2014, Crimea and Sevastopol are an inseparable part of the territory of the Russian Federation, which is extended to its sovereignty.” The western imperialist forces led by the United States, the EU and NATO members do not recognize this sovereignty.
When removing the legal basis for regulating its relations with Ukraine, the Kremlin has started by dealing with some general points, but the foundations of these agreements still remain. Formally, the agreement of Friendship and Russian-Ukrainian Cooperation of 1997 remains in force. This agreement was based on the UN Charter and Act of the CSCE, which recognizes the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Another agreement that is still in place is the one that sets land borders since 2003, which reiterates the recognition of these borders as the administrative boundaries of the Soviet republics of Ukraine and Russia as they were set at the time of disintegration of the USSR in December 1991.
In Kharkiv, Yanukovych and Medvedev agreed on a discount price for gas exported by Russia to Ukraine, which was linked to the presence of the fleet. Deputy Tatiana Moskalkova, rejoiced Monday that Moscow will not have to pay the $98 million a year that cost to keep the Fleet in Crimea.