Russian PM To Visit Ukraine

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will visit Ukraine on Monday following an accord allowing Russia to retain a naval base there until 2042 in return for cheap gas, a Russian statement said.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin

The communique released on Saturday did not spell out Putin's program.

The visit comes on the eve of the ratification by the parliaments of both countries of the deal signed last week granting a 25-year extension to the lease that allows Russia to maintain its Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. The lease had been due to expire in 2017.

In exchange, Moscow gave Kiev a 30 per cent discount on Russian natural gas, which is expected to save Ukraine billions of dollars as it struggles to recover from a crushing economic crisis.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who has sought to improve ties with Russia since taking office in February, signed the controversial deal on Wednesday with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

Source: BigPond News