Russian naval commander in chief Adm. Feliks Gromov yesterday introduced the new commander of the Pacific Fleet to the fleet’s Military Council, thus confirming a change that had been reported by some media last week. Vice Adm. Mikhail Zakharenko takes over from Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov, who has moved up to the navy’s Main Staff in Moscow. He replaces Adm. Igor Khmelnov as chief of staff. When these moves were leaked to the press last week both the president’s office and Navy headquarters denied having any information on them. (RIA Novosti, July 22; Russian agencies, July 16)
Both Zakharenko and Kuroyedov will have their work cut out for them in their new posts. While Defense Minister Igor Sergeev has said that the navy will be the least affected service under the reforms just initiated, it is certainly in for a hard time. The Ministry of Defense has indicated that the number of naval personnel will be trimmed to approximately 100,000 — a reduction of nearly 50 percent. The Pacific Fleet itself is to be cut in half, and is likely to loose its strategic submarine force to Russia’s new, reorganized Strategic Rocket Forces. Once a blue-water fleet with a frequent presence in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, the new Pacific Fleet seems destined to be tied much closer to the Russian coast. (Radio Mayak, July 19)
Ukrainian Churches Sign Agreement on Coexistence.