The Cooperative Partner-99 naval exercise starts in the Black Sea today, to continue until June 28 with massive participation of warships and naval aviation of NATO countries. While Russia is staying out as a demonstration of displeasure, Ukraine is participating in the joint exercise with her flagship frigate Hetman Sahaydachny, the corvette Lutsk and the escort ship Slavutych, all of which sailed out of Sevastopol on June 12 bound for the exercise area. The exercise is designed to develop coordination among the navies of NATO and friendly countries in supporting peacekeeping missions. Participants are to practice convoying movements, embargo enforcement, rescue operations, anti-mine protection and artillery and missile firings on surface and air targets. A Georgian destroyer with a crew of forty is also participating. In a related development, a military helicopter bought from Ukraine by the United States at a cost of approximately US$1 million was delivered from Ilychevsk (Ukraine) to Poti (Georgia) on June 12 as a donation by the U.S. Coast Guard to Georgia’s coastal guard. This triangular deal highlights American and Ukrainian support to Georgia’s nascent fleet in the Black Sea (UNIAN, June 12; Narodna Armiya (Kyiv), June 3; Georgian Television, June 12; Itar-Tass, June 13).–VS
SARKISIAN TAKES OVER AS PRIME MINISTER.