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    Russian naval base in Ukraine guarantees European security integrity - Medvedev

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    Russia's naval base in the city of Sevastopol in Ukraine's Crimea guarantees European security integrity, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said

    Russia's naval base in the city of Sevastopol in Ukraine's Crimea guarantees European security integrity, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said.

    Russia and Ukraine recently signed an agreement extending the lease on the Russian Black Sea Fleet base in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol for 25 years after the current lease expires in 2017.

    In return for the lease extension, which may later be extended for an additional five years, Ukraine will receive a 30% discount on Russian natural gas worth an estimated $40 billion.

    "Preserving the presence of our naval base means at least preserving the setup that formed rather long ago, and a safeguard against the desire to repartition something in the sphere of European security," Medvedev told Ukrainian media shortly before his visit to Kiev that starts Monday.

    "I am speaking about entire Europe," he said, adding that the EU and NATO reacted calmly to the lease extension. "This is wise," the Russian leader said.

    In his first three months in office, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has made good on his campaign pledge to conduct a more friendly policy toward Russia than his predecessor, working swiftly to end the bitter disputes that arose under the Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko.

    Medvedev proposed drawing up a new pan-European security pact in June 2008, and Russia published a draft of the treaty in November 2009, sending copies to heads of state and international organizations, including NATO. However, world nations have been reluctant to support Russia's initiative.

    MOSCOW, May 17 (RIA Novosti)

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