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Russia could pull fleet out of Sevastopol: Ivanov

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Oct 20, 2008
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has told the BBC the country's Black Sea fleet will leave its disputed naval base in Sevastopol in 2017 if the Ukrainian government requests it.

Asked if he could envisage the fleet leaving the Crimea, where it has been stationed for more than 200 years, Ivanov said in a TV interview broadcast Monday: "Yes, I can imagine that easily after 2017. Why not, if the Ukrainian government then in power decides not to prolong the lease?"

It is feared that Sevastopol could become a flashpoint in the strained relations between Russia and the West.

Ivanov also rejected suggestions that, in the wake of the war in Georgia, Russia could use force to reclaim parts of the Crimea to secure the future of the fleet.

"We are not aggressive," Ivanov said. "We have recognised the territorial integrity of all former Soviet republics. That was in 1991. Russia, of course, has no territorial ambitions regarding any former Soviet countries."

The fleet is a contentious issue between Russia and Ukraine, which have also clashed over Moscow's fierce opposition to Kiev's bid to join the NATO military alliance.

Russia signed a 20-year contract with Ukraine in 1997 to station its fleet in the Black Sea and makes an annual payment of 12 million dollars (nine million euros) to Kiev for the privilege.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly called for the fleet to leave Sevastopol when the lease expires in 2017.

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Swords and Shields: Russia's Med menace
Washington (UPI) Oct 15, 2008
The Russian Federation is expanding its global power projection capability, starting with redeploying a part of the Black Sea Fleet to its Cold War hunting grounds in the Mediterranean. Returning to bases and anchorages in Syria and Libya is a top priority for the Russian admirals.







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