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Ukraine, Russia discuss military training

Aug. 20, 2012 at 9:50 AM

MOSCOW, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Russian and Ukrainian officials signed agreements for the use of a facility on the Crimean Peninsula for training purposes, Russia's defense minister said.

An amended protocol for the Nitka Center on the Crimean Peninsula outlines terms for its unrestricted use as a training and testing facility for Russian carrier pilots.

"During a meeting of a subcommittee (of the Russian-Ukrainian Interstate Commission), the sides signed a protocol on the use of the Ukrainian Nitka training facility by the Russian military," Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was quoted by state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

Ukraine retained jurisdiction over the training center following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Kremlin said it pays about $700,000 per year to Ukraine to rent the base and has made commitments to upgrade the facility.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's political party called for ending a deal that gave Russia rights to extend its military presence in the Crimea through 2042.

She's serving a seven-year prison term following conviction on charges of corruption related to a 2009 gas deal with Russia's Gazprom. A revised gas deal put tight restrictions on Kiev and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych later landed new arrangements in exchange for an extended lease for the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea.

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