Russia is not planning to abandon its naval base in Sevastopol, Ukraine, but will nevertheless re-enforce Black Sea fleet facilities within Russia, the chief of General Staff said on Tuesday, Ria Novosti reported.

Russia's lease of the naval base in the Crimea expires in 2017, but Moscow is hoping to extend the agreement.

"We have not set ourselves a goal of leaving Sevastopol," Gen. Nikolai Makarov said, adding: "We also plan to build Black Sea fleet facilities near Novorossiisk."

The Novorossiisk facilities are planned to be completed by 2020.

Gen. Makarov said work is currently underway to clear the Tsemes Bay, also known as the Novorossiisk Bay, of WWII-era installments.

Yushchenko announced last summer that Ukraine would not extend the lease of the Sevastopol base beyond 2017, and urged the Russian fleet to start preparations for a pull out.


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