News / Europe

Russian Fleet Concerns NATO's Black Sea Members

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Wednesday's agreement by Moscow and Kyiv to extend the Russian Black Sea Fleet lease in the port city of Sevastopol does not represent a Ukrainian drift toward Russia. VOA correspondent reports from the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Tallinn, Estonia.

Asked about the Russian-Ukrainian Black Sea fleet agreement, Secretary of State Clinton said the decision by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych should be seen as an attempt to balance his country's foreign policy, not a step away from the West toward Russia.

"I think that given Ukraine's history and geographic position, that balancing act is a hard one, but it makes sense to us," she said.

NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen said the Russian-Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet agreement is a bilateral arrangement.

"We decided that Ukraine, and Georgia by the way, will become members of NATO, provided of course that they show a wish, and provided that they fulfill the necessary criteria," said Rasmussen.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych cooperated with NATO when he was prime minister, but now says the Ukrainian people are not ready for membership in the Western alliance. Russia opposed NATO expansion in Eastern Europe and remains adamant that Ukrainian and Georgian membership in the alliance would upset regional security.

Mr. Yanukovych and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announced the fleet agreement will extend Russia's lease on the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol through at least 2042. Mr. Medvedev says his country needed predictability for its fleet, which had been scheduled to leave in 2017.

He and Mr. Yanukovych agree it creates the needed assurances, adding that he and Mr. Yanukovych are in agreement that it creates bigger and better guarantees for European security in the Black Sea Basin.

But that assurance is not universally shared. Marina Luzhikova, Moscow editor of the Regional Strategic Research Magazine, told VOA the Ukrainian-Russian agreement was reached hastily with little consideration for its international ramifications.

For example, she points to Ukraine's territorial dispute with Romania over the Black Sea's oil-rich Snake Island.

Luzhikova notes that Romania has expressed concern Ukraine may turn to a third power to protect its interests. To avoid such misunderstanding, Ukrainian leadership should act within a legal framework and reach various international agreements within that framework. Otherwise, she cautions, they will be nullified, and will place Ukraine's international partners in awkward positions.

Luzhikova says Bulgarian and Romanian diplomats at the NATO conference are expressing private reservations about the Russian-Ukrainian agreement. A Bulgarian diplomat told VOA Black Sea countries are concerned about the influence the Russian fleet may exert in the region during the next quarter century.

The diplomat raised particular concern about Moscow's interest in purchasing French Mistral helicopter carriers. He notes these are assault ships designed for offense, not defense, and wonders what use they have in the Black Sea.

Members of the Ukrainian opposition are protesting the fleet agreement as illegal. Marina Luzhikova mentions several of their objections.

Luzhikova says the agreement violates the Ukrainian constitution, the country's national security act, its national defense doctrine, and the national security doctrine.

Chapter One, Article 17 of the Ukrainian constitution prohibits the presence of foreign military bases in Ukraine.

The opposition claims the agreement will also make it impossible for Ukraine to pursue non-aligned status, independent of Moscow and NATO.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs