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RUSSIA: CRIMEA: BLACK SEA FLEET



Russian/Nat Tensions between Russia and the Ukraine have flared again this week over the naval fleet in the Crimea. The Ukrainians have accused Moscow of removing and selling valuable technology from the Black Sea fleet which remained in Ukrainian territory after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That led to three years of bitter argument over the ownership of the fleet and its vessels. APTV has been to Sevastopol, home of the Black Sea fleet. The Crimean port of Sevastopol - a part of the Ukraine which continues to be predominantly Russian. In the last three years it's been at the centre of a growing row between the two countries. Following the break up of the Soviet Union, Ukraine claimed all former Soviet military hardware and forces on its territory, including the entire Black Sea fleet, based in Sevastopol. Russia insisted the fleet was of strategic importance and a bitter argument ensued. Three years later the two sides appear to have reached a compromise - the fleet will be divided between them. February 23 was Defender of the Fatherland Day a major military holiday in the former Soviet Union. For the Russian and Ukrainian sailors based in Sevastopol, it marks the end of an argument which almost led the two countries to war. Ukraine will now allow Russia to continue to base its fleet in Sevastopol and in return will get much-needed vessels for its infant navy. Many hope that this will be the end of the dispute. SOUNDBITE: (Russian) Translation: If they don't create tension artificially then there won't be any. Both Ukrainian sailors and those from the Black Sea fleet understand that it is a problem for the politicians. We didn't create it and we can't resolve it. It will only be solved at government and state level. We resolve military problems. We know how to and that is our duty. SUPER CAPTION: Vice-Admiral Vladimir Bezkorovainy - Ukrainian navy. The Black Sea fleet is made up of 833 vessels and although no mention has been made yet of the number each side will get, Ukraine can only benefit from the deal. At present its navy boasts around forty patrol vessels and a handful of new, medium- sized ships to patrol the country's 600-mile (960 kilometre) coastline. This makes it practically impossible for them to undertake any missions beyond Ukraine's territorial waters. Its officers are all former members of the Black Sea fleet who took an oath of loyalty to Ukraine in 1991 but still remain on close terms with their Russian counterparts. SOUNDBITE: (Russian) Translation: We have a situation here where they come to us and ask for things, bread, potatoes, and we go to them for things. We're friends, we're sailors. SUPER CAPTION: Lieutenant Danil Napriyenko - Ukrainian navy. But there are others who are glad the confusion has finally come to an end. SOUNDBITE: (Russian) Translation: It's high time that we were divided. Experience has shown that it's been a problem for the Russian Black Sea fleet as well as for the Ukrainian fleet. The people were confused as to where they were living and whom they were serving. SUPER CAPTION: Commander Nikolai Zhibaryev - Ukrainian navy. The formal agreement is due to be signed next month by Presidents Yeltsin and Kuchma during a visit to Ukraine by the Russian leader. Many hope this will be a major step on the road to closer relations between the two countries. You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/c0c226d9bb5644cc6d76c438090a7605 Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork

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