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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ukraine attempts to seize Russian navy navigation system

RIA Novosti

23/01/2007 15:59 MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian court bailiffs have made yet another attempt to seize an installation that belongs to Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea, the fleet's press service said Tuesday.

The Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities on the former Soviet state's largely Russian-speaking Crimean peninsular under a 1997 agreement that allows Russia remain there, paying rent of $93 million per year.

"Igor Manikin, the chief court marshal of the Kherson Region arrived today at the Mars-75 radio-navigation facility, located in the town of Genichesk [on the Azov Sea, which is linked to the Black Sea by Kerch Strait]. He attempted to forcibly take this installation from the Black Sea Fleet's control," the press service said.

Col. Ivan Zdrovka, the head of the fleet's legal service, told the bailiffs that their actions were in conflict with basic agreements on the Black Sea Fleet.

The press service said the fleet's command had implemented additional measures to ensure the security of navigation facilities, and protested against the illegal actions to the Ukrainian authorities.

The Russian navy is scheduled to withdraw from Crimea in 2017, but Ukraine recently said Russia is not paying enough for the facilities, and demanded a new agreement on inventorying facilities at the base. Moscow said it will make no concessions over rent or on withdrawing the fleet, and talks have stalled.

The Black Sea Fleet command said earlier it would not tolerate any attempts to inflict damage to the fleet's facilities or injure servicemen or civilian personnel, and insisted that responsibility for the possible consequences of any such actions would lie with the organizers and perpetrators.

Last June, the Black Sea Fleet reported an attempt to seize a building housing its hydrographic service in Sevastopol. Ukrainian bailiffs, along with Interior Ministry and other officials arriving at the site, tried to hand over an order authorizing the seizure of the building and other hydrographic facilities run by the Russian navy, the fleet said.