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KIEV, September 9 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukrainian Defense Minister Mikhail Yezhel has proposed to let the NITKA training range in the Crimea to Russia.
“We have two options: either to let the training range to Russia or to put it on the balance sheet of the Yevpatoria Aircraft Plant,” the minister said. “I think it would be better to let the range so that Russia services NITKA. A decision will be made at the top level.” Russia asked Ukraine for renting NITKA earlier.
NITKA at the Saki airport in the Crimea has been in use since 1982 for training pilots of ship-based aircraft. Russia was using the training range on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement signed in 1997 and ratified by Ukraine in 2004. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in August 2008 that further training of Russian pilots in the Crimea would be inexpedient. New agreements were reached in June 2010, and the training resumed in September 2010.
The Russian and Ukrainian defense ministers visited the training range in April 2011. “Russia remains the main partner in using this training range,” Yezhel said back then. “Russia is using this facility to train pilots of ship-based aircraft. The annual rent amounts to about $700,000,” Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.