Ukraine Restrains Black Sea Fleet’s Military Power, Kasatonov Says

Ukraine Restrains Black Sea Fleet's Military Power, Kasatonov Says

Adviser to the Chief of Russian General Staff and Black Sea Fleet (BSF) ex-commander Igor Kasatonov criticized Ukraine’s stand on replacement of Black Sea Fleet ships, reports UNIAN.

Kasatonov says Russia does not increase number of ships in full accordance with agreements. However, when trying to replace overaged ships with new ones, it faces certain opposition of Ukrainian side. “Ukraine believes that new ships are considerably superior to old ones. They say those are separate systems and need separate talks, and the issue comes to a dead end”, he said.

According to the ex-commander, Kiev adheres to the following position as of BSF ships: “Let them all gradually get old. When those ships fall into pieces, the question will be put in a different way”.

Answering the question whether the Ukrainian defense minister’s recent visit to Moscow pushed the negotiations, Kasatonov said “Not yet, I think. We should continue talks and consultations”.

Renovation of the Russian fleet based in Ukraine is provided by the State Arms Program 2011-2020. As was reported, BSF would receive 15 new surface ships and submarines through this time. In particular, first Project 11356 frigates are supposed to join BSF in 2013, and by 2017 the fleet would receive six Project 06363 Varshavyanka diesel submarines”.

Russian side many times complained that Ukraine was suppressing the BSF re-armament and modernization process. Russian foreign ministry has been expressing such concerns since the Yuschenko’s presidency.

It was planned to sign a BSF renovation agreement in Oct 2011 during the visit of Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdiukov. However, the document was not signed then. Reportedly, the reason was Ukraine’s intention to keep a tight hold on the Russian fleet’s modernization process. Russia was not satisfied with that position.

Later in Nov 2011, Ukrainian foreign ministry announced the draft agreement was “at the final stage”. By the way, the ministry’s spokesman pointed out that the BSF modernization treaty was to be signed far back in 2000, but Ukrainian party demanded that each replacement to be held upon Ukraine’s permission and on the “same type – same class” principle. Russia could not accept that, and the agreement was not signed again.

Russian Black Sea Fleet is stationed in Ukraine on the basis of bilateral agreement. Ukraine’s previous administration wanted to withdraw the fleet after 2017 (a deadline stipulated by the interstate treaty). However, after change of Ukrainian leadership (coming of Viktor Yanukovich and his Party of Regions to power) it was decided to prolong BSF presence in Sevastopol for the next 25 years after 2017. In exchange, Ukraine received discounts on Russian natural gas.

Naval Today Staff , March 15, 2012; Image: sevastopol