Ukrainian presidential candidate and former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych said the issue of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, based in Ukraine's Crimea, should not be politicized.

"Taking into consideration our international obligations, earlier undertaken by Ukraine, we must not politicize the issue and appear like an unreliable or unpredictable partner," Yanukovych said on Thursday.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine's Crimea, including a base in Sevastopol, as part of a 1997 lease agreement valid until 2017.

Yanukovych said the position of the Ukrainian authorities on the issue is the result of a negative attitude toward Russia.

"The current "orange" authorities have been demonstrating openly their enmity to Russia, which is our strategic ally... and have been searching for conflicts," Yanukovych said.

"[Foreign] policy has to be balanced and mutually beneficial," he added.


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