The rent Russia pays for a newly extended lease on its Black Sea base in Ukraine is high but not overpriced, the Russian President said.
"The rent we are paying for our fleet base is high but it is not excessive. It is not excessive because we have a strategic partnership [with Ukraine]," Dmitry Medvedev said.
A deal, extending the lease on a Russian base in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol for 25 years after the current lease expires in 2017, was ratified simultaneously by the Russian and Ukrainian parliaments on Tuesday. In return for the lease, which may be further extended by five years, Ukraine will receive a 30% discount on Russian natural gas.
"We hope such relations will continue forever; they are ancestral links. Such friendship should be accompanied by mutual support," Medvedev said, adding that the agreement is beneficial both for Moscow and Kiev.
Earlier in the day, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the proposed price was too high.
"I would eat [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych and prime minister [Mykola Azarov] for such money. But this is not just a question of money for us. Cooperation with Ukraine ... in the military field improves the level of trust between our countries," he said.
The Russian president said he was pleased strategic interests prevailed over short-term emotions in the Ukrainian parliament, the Supreme Rada, during the ratification of the deal.
Around 7,000 protestors and supporters gathered in front of the parliament. The protesters, led by former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko's secretary, Vera Ulyanchenko, tried to get into the parliamentary building but their attempts were suppressed by police.
The hearings started with a brawl and eggs were thrown at the parliamentary speaker. Lawmakers managed to ratify the agreement in 40 minutes.
"I'm very pleased. This shows a triumph of reason and strategic interests over short-term emotions, which were expressed in the form of various sound effects and expressions of opinion," Medvedev said.
The Russian Federation Council is expected to consider the final ratification on Wednesday, and the agreement will then be forwarded to the Russian and Ukrainian presidents for signing.
OSLO, April 27 (RIA Novosti)