Ukraine’s Sevastopol “cannot live without Black Sea Fleet”

The Black Sea Fleet (RIA Novosti / Aleksandr Mazurkevich)
The Russian fleet will remain an integral part of the Crimean city, the head of the presidential administration Sergey Naryshkin has said.

­Life would be impossible in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol without the presence of the Black Sea Fleet, Naryshkin has said. It is a part of the city, he noted, adding that local residents once again confirmed this fact as they attended events devoted to Russia’s Navy Day on Sunday.   

The Black Sea Fleet is “the flesh and blood of this wonderful city,” Naryshkin said as he visited Sevastopol, along with his Ukrainian counterpart Sergey Levochkin. The Kremlin’s chief of staff discussed with authorities from Sevastopol how Russia will contribute to the city’s future social and economic development.

Moscow is interested in improving the infrastructure and economic situation in this Ukrainian city, because it involves the life of both Navy servicemen and civilians. Russian-Ukrainian relations do not only unite politicians, they extend to the people as well, Naryshkin said. Sevastopol presents a good example of such relations, he noted.

The Russian Defense Ministry had earlier announced an ambitious program for the modernization of the fleet, as many battleships are in a state of disrepair. The fleet will receive six new submarines and six frigates in the near future, Navy Commander-in-chief Vladimir Vysotsky told Interfax. The construction of three Project 636 diesel electric submarines allocated for the Black Sea Fleet has already started at the Admiralteiskiye Verfi shipyard.

In April 2010, Moscow and Kiev agreed to extend the presence of the Russian fleet in the Crimea peninsula until 2042. The accord, signed by the presidents of the two countries, envisions an option that will allow Moscow to lease the base through 2047.

The presence of fleets from other countries in Ukraine is considered to be an obstacle to Kiev’s potential admission to NATO. In June this year, deputies from the Ukrainian parliament refused to put a draft bill on their agenda which denounced the accords on extending Russia’s lease of the fleet base.