GOSTOMEL (Ukraine), October 25 (RIA Novosti)
Ukraine will allow Russia to modernize its Black Sea Fleet, Ukrainian Defense Minister Mykhaylo Yezhel said on Tuesday.
Talks on the details of the deal are ongoing.
Under the current lease on the Russian Black Sea Fleet's base in Crimea's Sevastopol signed in 1997, Russia cannot increase the number of combat ships or modernize its weaponry at the base.
However, Ukraine agreed in 2010 to extend the lease until 2042 while most of the warships in service with the Black Sea Fleet are outdated.
“The average service life of a warship is 25-30 years. It is only natural that the [current] ships will be replaced, and that is the subject of negotiations,” Yezhel said.
During his visit to Ukraine on October 19, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said two new agreements on Russia's Black Sea Fleet were being discussed and the replacement of armament and hardware is one of the main stumbling blocs at the talks.
The fleet is expected to receive a total of 15 new frigates and diesel-electric submarines by 2020 within the limits of the1997 agreement.