Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 109

Russia´s Duma passed October 6 a bill suspending any unilateral reduction in the strength of the Black Sea Fleet, any changes to the fleet´s organizational structure, any withdrawal of naval crews and units, and any dismantling of coastal infrastructures or their transfer to Ukraine, until Russian-Ukrainian agreements on the partition and status of the fleet come into force. The bill also provides for the fleet´s financing from Russia´s 1996 budget. The measure requires Federation Council approval and presidential signature to become law. (11)

As a Russian-Ukrainian agreement is nowhere in sight, the Duma´s apparent intention is to freeze Russia´s naval presence on Ukrainian territory and maximize the government´s negotiating leverage over Ukraine in the long term. An immediate intent might be to stop the ongoing disbanding of Russia´s coastal defense division, withdrawal of the marine brigade, and transfer to Ukraine of the Mirnyi airbase attached to the fleet´s reserve headquarters at Donuzlav. But the three measures might by now be too far advanced from a military point of view to be reversed.

Belarus Legislature Scores Points in Constitutional Crisis.