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Sailor says 4 Russian ships return to Crimea from Abkhazia coast

RIA Novosti

13/08/2008 18:59 SEVASTOPOL, August 13 (RIA Novosti) - Four Russian ships have returned from waters off Abkhazia to their Black Sea Fleet base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, a crewman said Wednesday.

Ships from Russia's Black Sea Fleet patrolled the waters off the Georgian coast during the Russian "peace enforcement" operation that began after Georgia launched an offensive in breakaway South Ossetia on August 8.

The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine, from whom Russia rents the Sevastopol base, said Sunday that it could bar Russian ships involved in the conflict from entering the port.

Former Black Sea Fleet commander Vladimir Komoyedov said the Ukrainian warning was nothing but another provocation.

"Kiev is most likely to have decided to shift from international-level charges against the Black Sea Fleet to routine accusations, which have become a sort of norm, of illegal movements of units or warships, not reporting etc.," he said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree Wednesday stating that Russia had to inform the Ukrainian authorities of all movements by warships and aircraft from its Crimea-based Black Sea Fleet.

According to the decree, Russia must ask permission from Kiev for the movement of its warships and aircraft beyond Ukrainian borders. Permission is to be sought no later than 72 hours prior to any planned movements.

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