Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 184

Russian Black Sea Fleet commander Admiral Viktor Kravchenko and the Fleet’s chief-of-staff, Vice-Admiral Pyotr Svyatashov, announced in separate statements in Sevastopol and Krasnodar that the Fleet had completed its main annual exercise, conducted off Crimea. Some 40 warships and auxiliary vessels, land-based aviation, coastal artillery and missile batteries, and marine infantry units were involved. The 12-day exercise featured submarine chasing, torpedo and artillery firing, marine infantry landings, and mock battle operations by naval squadrons.

The commanders stated that the Fleet’s strength will be set at approximately 100 warships and 30,000 men, to be divided into a western grouping based in Sevastopol and an eastern grouping based on Russia’s Caucasus coast. They expect several new surface ships and submarines this year, among them the Moskva guided missile cruiser (whose completion is being funded by Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov). The commanders called for tasking the Russian fleet with defense of both Russia’s and Ukraine’s maritime borders — jointly with the Ukrainian fleet — and also urged that it "operate in the interests of the CIS." (Interfax-Ukraine, UNIAN, October 1 and 2; Krymskie izvestiya cited by Nezavisimaya gazeta, October 1)

Ukraine will not willingly accept any such common defense arrangements, intended in part to confer a bilateral or multilateral veneer on Moscow’s quest for long-term naval basing rights in Ukraine. Plans to develop the fleet in Crimea are contingent on the outcome of Russian-Ukrainian negotiations. The question of finding a suitable base on the Caucasus coast remains unresolved. Novorossiisk is the only viable choice from the navy’s point of view, but it is probably incompatible with the Russian Ministry of Economy’s plan to dedicate Novorossiisk to exports of Caspian oil in the event that Moscow succeeds in having that oil diverted to Russia.

Georgia Warns it May Ask Russian Troops to Leave.