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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid