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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia boosts Black Sea Fleet in Crimea

Iran Press TV

Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:29PM GMT

Russia has begun expanding and modernizing its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea with new ships and submarines, just months after the peninsula rejoined the Russian Federation.

Alexander Vitko, commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet made the announcement on Wednesday in a message to Russian servicemen.

"Today, we have started forming a powerful Black Sea Fleet with an absolutely different level of air service, coastal missiles and artillery troops and marines," said Vitko.

The Russian commander added that the modernization of the fleet "lays the foundation for the future of the fleet," both in short and long terms.

The announcement came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the need to boost the country's naval defense in the strategic area amid NATO's eastward expansion towards Russian borders.

Putin said NATO military buildup near Russia's borders is not just for defense as the Western alliance claims, but is "an offensive weapon" and "element of the US offensive system deployed outside the mainland."

NATO has held a number of war games in Eastern Europe and reinforced its air patrol over the Baltic region after Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum in March.

In addition, the group of NATO ships in the Black Sea has grown to nine vessels, setting a record for recent decades.

Russia sees the Western military alliance's moves as a sign of aggression amid the crisis in Ukraine.

CAH/AB/SS



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