Yesterday’s Russian-Ukrainian agreement in Kiev has apparently put an end to years of bickering on just where the Russian and Ukrainian components of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet will be based. From the details released so far it seems that the Russians got pretty much what they wanted in Sevastopol — although at a higher price — and that the Ukrainian Navy managed to hang on to only a face-saving but limited presence.
The Russians will have the use of the two largest bays in the region: Sevastopol Bay, the main harbor which cuts through the city in an easterly direction from the Black Sea for some 7.5 kilometers and is more than one kilometer wide in several spots, and the smaller South Bay, jutting off from it to the south. Ukraine had wanted to use Quarantine Bay as one of the bases for its navy. This small, winding inlet opens directly onto the Black Sea just outside the breakwaters for the main harbor. The Russians were never happy with this solution, and it was apparently one of the points on which the Ukrainians conceded yesterday when sources indicated that they had "amended" their stance on naval bases in return for a Russian concession on the rent to be paid for the base leases. The Ukrainian Navy, instead, will limit its presence in Sevastopol to Striletska Bay — some three kilometers down the coast from the harbor entrance.
Even this largely symbolic presence was too much for one senior Russian naval officer and former commander of the Black Sea Fleet. Admiral Eduard Baltin charged that the Kiev agreement would allow the Ukrainian naval units in the city to block the entrance to the harbor should they wish and deny Russian warships access to the Black Sea. (Interfax, May 28)
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