The commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s land-based forces, Gen. Vladislav Chernomurov, yesterday turned down Kiev’s proposal on mutual withdrawal of Russian and Ukrainian marine infantry from the city of Sevastopol. Chernomurov claimed in a media statement that the Russian marine infantry’s mission in the city is "not only to engage in street fighting" if necessary, but also to protect communication lines and defend the Russian fleet from the land side. He further dismissed the notion that hundreds of Russian naval officers and NCOs and their families can be transferred to housing elsewhere anytime soon. The Russian Black Sea Fleet command indicated also yesterday that Russian marine infantry are located in central Sevastopol and are more numerous than the Ukrainian, whose sole battalion is located on the city’s outskirts. (Interfax-Ukraine, May 6)
Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma called on April 25 in Sevastopol for the reciprocal withdrawal of marine infantry as a first step toward demilitarizing the city; and Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk announced on May 5 that he had submitted an official proposal to his Russian counterpart Igor Rodionov. (See Monitor, April 26, May 6) Moscow seeks military basing rights in the city proper, while Kiev negotiates regarding the bays but not the city.
Russia Demands Azov Sea Condominium with Ukraine.