MOSCOW, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia sent a diplomatic note to the Ukrainian embassy informing Kiev that the bilateral Black Sea Fleet agreements have been terminated, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said in a statement Wednesday.
"On April 2, 2014, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a [diplomatic] note to the Ukrainian Embassy informing the country that the agreement ‘On Terminating the Actions of Agreements Concerning the Deployment of the Russian Federation's Black Sea Fleet on the Territory of Ukraine' has entered into force," the statement reads.
Moscow confirmed on Thursday its readiness to hand over to Ukraine the remaining military hardware in Crimea, which joined Russia last month following a referendum, the ministry said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Wednesday invalidating the 1997 agreements with Ukraine providing for the basing of the fleet, as well as the 2010 deal, extending the Russian lease of naval facilities in Crimea until 2042, with a 5-year renewal option.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet is headquartered in Sevastopol, a city with a special status within Crimea. As part of the agreements, Russia paid the Ukrainian government $530 million annually for the base, and wrote off nearly $100 million of Kiev's debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters.
Ukraine also received a discount of $100 on each 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas imported from Russia, which was provided for by cutting export duties on the gas, money that would have gone into the Russian state budget.
The Kremlin said last month that as the base is no longer located in Ukraine, there were no legal grounds for the discount to be continued.
Russian energy giant Gazprom also revoked another $100 discount on gas prices for Ukraine from April 1, which Kiev received under a December deal signed between Putin and Ukraine's former leader, Viktor Yanukovych. The price for Ukraine is expected to rise to around $480 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.
On February 22, a regime change took place in Ukraine. The Ukrainian parliament ousted Yanukovych, changed the constitution and announced early presidential elections for May 25.
Russia has described the uprising in Kiev as an illegitimate fascist coup and a military seizure of power, which resulted in Moscow taking steps to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine.