Russia’s representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, reminded representatives on Tuesday that the deal surrounding the Black Sea Fleet allows Russia to station a contingent of up to 25,000 troops in Ukraine. “We are within our rights”, he said.
A fact the US media have chosen to all but ignore for whatever reason.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the country’s military “strictly executes the agreements, which stipulate the Russian fleet’s presence in Ukraine, and follows the stance and claims coming from the legitimate authority in Ukraine and in this case the legitimate authority of the Autonomous Republic Crimea as well.”
According to a source within the Russian Ministry of Defense, who wished not to be identified in this report: “There is nothing criminal about our actions.We have legitimate military and national security interests here, despite what President Obama says.”
The 1997 deal between the Ukrainian government and the Russian Federation allows the Russian navy to have up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems with a caliber smaller than 100 mm, 132 armored vehicles, and 22 military planes on Ukrainian territory. Currently Russia has around 19996 troops in Crimea.
In compliance with those accords, there are currently five Russian naval units stationed in the port city of Sevastopol in the Crimean peninsula:
The 30th Surface Ship Division formed by the 11th Antisubmarine Ship Brigade, which includes the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship guard missile cruiser Moskva as well as Kerch, Ochakov, Smetlivy, Ladny, and Pytlivy vessels, and the 197th Landing Ship Brigade, consisting of seven large amphibious vessels;
The 41st Missile Boat Brigade, which includes the 166th Fast Attack Craft Division, consisting of Bora and Samum hovercrafts as well as small missile ships Mirazh and Shtil, and 295th missile Boat Division;
The 247th Separate Submarine Division, consisting of two diesel submarines – B-871 Alrosa and B-380 Svyatoy Knyaz Georgy;
The 68th Harbor Defense Ship Brigade formed by the 400th Antisubmarine Ship Battalion of four vessels and 418 Mine Hunting Ship Division, which consist of four ships as well;
The 422nd Separate Hydrographic Ship Division, which includes Cheleken, Stvor, Donuzlav and GS-402 survey vessels as well as a group of hydrographic boats.
Besides the naval units, Moscow also has two airbases in Crimea, which are situated in the towns of Kacha and Gvardeysky.
The Russian coastal forces in Ukraine consist of the 1096th Separate Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment in Sevastopol and the 810th Marine Brigade, which hosts around 2,000 marines.
Meanwhile the Pentagon said late Monday in an email that it has ordered the “suspension of all military relations with Russia effective immediately, including a joint naval exercise planned for May.” All trade and investment talks between the countries were also halted.
The White House refused comment on Russia’s right to protect citizens abroad and protect its vital military and national security interests in Crimea.