Russia has announced plans to rearm its Black Sea Fleet and has asked Ukraine to settle the issues regarding the planned deliveries of new weapons to the naval force, Ukraine’s defense minister said on Saturday.
"Russia's desire is understandable - technology is moving ahead, and the desire to rearm its fleet is fair. That is why it is necessary to solve all the issues at the legislative level, taking the interests of Ukraine as a non-aligned country into account," Pavlo Lebedev was quoted by the ministry’s press service as saying.
However, Lebedev said customs formalities are not within his ministry’s jurisdiction and therefore the documents concerning the planned arms deliveries will be sent to the Tax and Income Ministry and the Finance Ministry.
The bulk of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is stationed at the port of Sevastopol in Crimea under a lease agreement with Ukraine. Moscow and Kiev signed the so-called Kharkiv Agreements on April 21, 2010, extending the fleet's lease on the base for another 25 years after the current lease expires in 2017.
Russia and Ukraine have been discussing renovation of Black Sea Fleet for over 10 years. Sure, the result will depend on a certain compromise between Moscow and Kiev. But anyway, in this issue Russia has good grounds to take reasonable fidelity to its principles, says Konstantin Zatulin, political analyst and ex-member of Russian parliament. "Russia's influence on Ukrainian economy is that weighty reason which will finally make Ukraine consent to renewal of the obsolete Black Sea Fleet", said the expert. However, while Moscow and Kiev are carrying on long negotiations, Turkey actively builds up its defense power. According to official figures, Turkish Navy operates 14 submarines including four commissioned in the recent decade. Almost half of them are stationed in the Black Sea.