When will the US finally dump the “Russia is our strategic partner” rubbish?
SEVASTOPOL, August 3 (RIA Novosti) – Russia must restore its permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean to ensure the protection of its strategic interests in the region, the Navy commander said Friday.
“The Mediterranean is an important theater of operations for the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” Admiral Vladimir Masorin said, adding that the fleet’s zone of control extended through the Black and Mediterranean seas toward the Atlantic Ocean.
“We must restore a permanent presence of the Russian Navy in this region,” the Navy commander said.
He called for closer cooperation with Ukraine, where the bulk of the Black Sea Fleet is currently based, and Turkey, which is an important regional leader.
Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in 1997 stipulating that the Black Sea Fleet’s main base in Sevastopol, on the Crimean Peninsula, be leased to Russia for 20 years, with the possibility of extending the term.
The annual rent of about $100 million is deducted from Ukraine’s debt for Russian energy supplies. In addition to the main base, the Black Sea Fleet maintains two airfields and a ship re-supply facility on the Crimean Peninsula.
He also said Ukraine should not worry about Russia’s plans to reinforce its Black Sea Fleet, but should rather look for ways to expand naval cooperation with Moscow.
“The Russian and Ukrainian Navies could successfully cooperate in combat training, naval exercises and international operations,” Masorin said.