Ukraine has claimed that Russia's Black Sea Fleet is unlawfully holding some of its facilities, a senior Ukrainian diplomat said Thursday, RIA Novosty reports.

Leonid Osavolyuk, Ukraine's acting charge d'affaires in Russia, said the Ukrainian side had failed to take full inventory of the facilities owned by the Black Sea Fleet. "The Russian Black Sea Fleet owns some facilities unlawfully, and we demand the return of these facilities," he said.

According to the diplomat, Ukraine has repeatedly raised the issue of holding the fleet to the terms of a 1997 agreement that was signed between the two countries.

"Ukraine is not initiating early termination of the agreement on the Black Sea Fleet," he said. "At the same time, we want this agreement to be strictly observed by both parties and the terms of the fleet's stay to comply with Ukrainian legislation."

Meanwhile, the diplomat said that cooperation with Russia was a major aim of Ukrainian foreign policy.

He added that bilateral economic cooperation was developing quite dynamically and bilateral trade was expected to total $20 billion in 2005.

But relations between the two countries remain tense over the issues of gas supplies, the lease terms for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, and border cooperation.

The commander of the Russian Navy has said that the terms of the Black Sea Fleet's lease in Sevastopol were not subject to review. Admiral Vladimir Masorin said, "The terms of the Black Sea Fleet's stay in Sevastopol and the Crimea are clearly defined in the 1997 basic agreement between Russia and Ukraine and are not subject to review."


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