Normalization Of Russia-Ukraine Ties Could Revive Return Of Military Equipment - Lawmaker

Normalization of Russia-Ukraine Ties Could Revive Return of Military Equipment - Lawmaker

SEVASTOPOL (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 11th September, 2019) The warming of relations between Russia and Ukraine could facilitate returning of Ukrainian military equipment from Crimea, Russia's State Duma member representing Sevastopol Dmitrii Belik told Sputnik.

Moscow began transferring the military equipment to Ukraine in April 2014, but stopped in June that year amid Kiev's military campaign in the southeast of Ukraine against the local residents who refused to recognize the new government that had recently come to power. Currently, about 50 ships and vessels of the Ukrainian Naval Forces, about 15 aircraft, including MiG-29 fighter, as well as ground forces equipment.

"The warming of the relations between Moscow and Kiev could resume the process of transferring military equipment to Ukraine aircraft, ships and armored vehicles. To date, these units need major repairs, after which they could be returned to the army and Navy," Belik stated.

The lawmaker noted that the possibility of military equipment return depended on whether Kiev wanted to improve relations and expressed hope that Ukraine would take into account Russia's readiness to cooperate on the issue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last January that Russia was ready to return former Ukrainian combat ships and planes from Crimea to Ukraine and invite Ukrainian military experts to dispose of those munitions which cannot be transported.

Relations between Moscow and Kiev deteriorated in 2014 after Crimea's reunification with Russia and amid the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities have labeled Russia as an "aggressor state" over its alleged interference in Ukraine's internal affairs and involvement in the conflict in Donbas. To this day, Kiev also insists that Crimea is an occupied territory. Russia has repeatedly stressed that the reunification was implemented via a democratic procedure, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that the issue was decided once and for all.

Last week, Russia and Ukraine each released 35 convicted and detained persons, including Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years in Russia for plotting acts of terrorism in Crimea, and 24 Ukrainian sailors who were accused of violating the Russian maritime border. RIA Novosti Ukraine portal head Kirill Vyshinsky also returned to Russia after being held in Ukrainian custody for over one year.

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