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Russian Navy denies reports of Black Sea missile loss

08.05.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

Russia's Navy has denied Ukrainian claims that a missile belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea was washed up on the Ukrainian coast last week.

"The item which was found is...a practical item [a capsule] with a dummy load... There are no explosives inside this item," an aide to the Russian Navy commander told RIA Novosti.

Igor Dygalo said the 'item' was lost during tests in the Black Sea and was subsequently washed up on the shore by the tide.

The Black Sea Fleet said in a statement on Tuesday that the item was not live and posed no threat to either the local population or the environment.

The fleet also said that on May 5 some sections of the Ukrainian media had posted reports on their websites saying that "a Russian air and surface missile" had been discovered on the coast of the Black Sea on May 1. The fleet added that in fact, on April 26, Ukraine's coastguards had found a dummy device belonging to the Black Sea Fleet.

The Black Sea Fleet expressed bewilderment regarding the reaction of the Ukrainian media to an event "which happened 10 days ago."

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that a top Russian diplomat from the Russian embassy in Ukraine had been handed a note of protest regarding an alleged test of a missile by the Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea.

The Ukrainian ministry said an air-to-underwater missile was found in the Alushta District of the Crimea on April 27, adding that Black Sea Fleet representatives had later provided documents proving that the missile belonged to a Black Sea Fleet military unit. The ministry said a Russian ship tested the missile on April 15 and the missile was lost.

The ministry said the tests had not been coordinated with the Ukraine, as envisioned by the 1997 agreement on the status and conditions of the Russian Black Sea Fleet's stay in Ukraine.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in the Crimea under a 1997 agreement allowing Russia to lease the base from its ex-Soviet neighbor for $93 million per year. Moscow pays the sum with Russian energy supplies.

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