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25 Mar, 2009 12:49

Ukrainians: “NATO go home”

The residents of the seaside Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, located on the coast of the Crimea peninsula, greeted the NATO frigate “Klakring” with the slogan “NATO go home.”

Around 500 people took part in the demonstration. When the frigate approached port, they released balloons which bore the slogans: “NATO go home” and “No to NATO”.

The organizers of the meeting pointed out that the visit of an American vessel into a Ukrainian port could be regarded as extremely cynical, in that it coincided with the dates when the U.S. began to bomb the territories of former Yugoslavia.

As both Russia and Ukraine were vehemently opposed to the U.S. bombing campaign, some observers considered the entrance of military vessels into Sevastopol as out of order.

Over one hundred policemen were guarding the port when the action took place. They did not allow the demonstrators to approach the vessel’s docking station. While the “Klakring” was nearing port, a patrol boat with Ukrainian Special Forces monitored the situation near the coastline.

According to official information, the vessel entered Ukrainian territory on what they described as “a friendly visit.” Its commander will be given an opportunity to meet with the head of the Ukrainian Navy while Ukrainian servicemen will be given a tour of the ship.

The “Klakring” is expected to leave Sevastopol on the 28th of March. Before then, its crew will be given a tour of the city and a football match will be organized between them and the students of the local Navy academy.

There have been previous instances of protests in Ukrainian ports during U.S. Navy visits. Most notably, during the autumn of 2008, numerous demonstrations took place, objecting to the ships “Mount Witney” and “Dallas” entering Sevastopol as they were delivering humanitarian aid to Georgia following the August conflict.