Ukraine’s Donuzlav naval base hosted a three-day conference over the weekend to plan the Sea Breeze-97 naval exercise, due to be held in that area as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Officers representing most of the navies that will participate in the exercise — including the U.S., Turkey, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia — reconnoitered the area and updated the exercise scenario, according to Ukrainian navy deputy commander Yury Shalit. It was agreed that the U.S. and Ukraine will cover the expenses of the exercise.
In Odessa, meanwhile, a Ukrainian squadron hosted a U.S. frigate on a three-day "unofficial" visit at the request of the U.S. Sixth Fleet command. The visit was the latest in a series of port calls this spring by U.S. and other NATO warships in Ukrainian ports.
In Poti, Ukraine turned over to Georgia a coast guard cutter from Ukraine’s share of the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet. The Griff is Georgia’s first-ever warship and its Georgian crew has just completed training in Ukraine. Georgia will participate with this ship in the Sea Breeze exercise. Moscow has refused to recognize Georgia’s entitlement to a share of the Black Sea Fleet. (UNIAN, April 18-19; Ukrinform, April 19, 21) At the same time, Ukrainian ships and naval aviation continued over the weekend to participate in some phases of a large-scale Russian naval exercise that began on April 14.
Duma Ratifies Treaty on Russian Military Bases in Armenia.