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    'You're 3 Years Too Late': MP Mocks Kiev's Hysteria Over Russian Fleet in Crimea

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    A court in Kiev has given Ukrainian military prosecutors access to documents about a 2010 agreement extending the Russian Black Sea Fleet's lease of bases in Crimea, as part of an investigation into the agreement's legitimacy. Asked for comment, Crimean lawmaker Ruslan Balbec poked fun at Kiev's efforts, saying they were 'three years too late'.

    Earlier this week a court in Kiev gave military prosecutors temporary access to documents containing details about the 2010 agreement between Russia and Ukraine that extended the lease of bases in Crimea by the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The court granted prosecutors the access as part of criminal proceedings initiated against the country's former authorities, who have been charged with 'high treason' and abuse of power. Ukraine's government was overthrown in a coup d'état in Kiev in February 2014.

    In April 2010, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed an agreement extending the Black Sea Fleet's presence in Crimea for 25 years after 2017, with an option to extend the lease further upon mutual agreement. In exchange, Ukraine received a $100 discount per thousand cubic meters on Russian gas deliveries, as well as other benefits.

    In March 2014, amid the chaos in Kiev following the coup, Crimean authorities held a referendum regarding the status of the peninsula. With a voter turnout of 83%, over 96% of Crimea's residents voted to break off from Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

    Commenting on Kiev's latest ploy, Duma lawmaker Ruslan Balbek, who is from Crimea, told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency that Ukrainian authorities should stop with their belated hysteria around the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. 

    "As far as their hysteria over the presence of the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea is concerned, Ukrainian authorities are late by almost three years," Balbek quipped. 

    The lawmaker added that "all of these actions, including the seizure of documents, the checking of signatures, and the conducting of an investigation, are just a failed attempt to catch a train that left a long time ago."

    Balbek stressed that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is under the command of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Federation (i.e. the Russian President), and that it is based in Crimea, which is Russian territory. 

    "Maybe we will keep these useless scraps of paper that come out of Kiev for history's sake," the lawmaker said. In his words, Ukraine knows that it does not have the means to oust the Russian Fleet by force; meanwhile, its hopes of doing so with foreign help have also "vanished into thin air" in recent weeks.

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    Tags:
    lease agreement, court case, court, prosecutors, Russian Black Sea Fleet, Crimea, Ukraine, Russia
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