>Renewal of Naval Relations Between Russia and Ukraine

>Since Viktor Yanukovych’s election as Ukraine president the ties between Russia and Ukraine is improving on the naval front. The relations between two countries were at low ebb after 2008 Caucasian war. At that time Ukraine Forbid Russia to use warships based is Sevastopol to be used in a war.

But since February 2010 the relations are improving fast. First Ukraine prolonged the leasing agreement of Sevastopol Naval base for Russian ships, which was crucial for the continuation of Russian Black Sea Fleet. As a gesture Russia offered help to modernize for the Ukraine’s sole submarine the Foxtrot (Project 641) class Zaporizya.

She was acquired by Ukraine after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, but she was seldom at sea. She entered into a dry dock for an overhaul, in February. In March Russia offered help to to ensure the technical maintenance of her.

“We are stepping up our work. We received an application of our Ukrainian partners on the technical maintenance of the submarine, which they repaired and which is going to be put to use,” Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev, first deputy chief of the staff of the Russian Navy.

While Zaporizya is still in drydock, Now Russia is considering buying the half finished Slava class cruiser Ukraina from Ukraine.

The construction of the cruiser was launched in 1984 at the Nikolayev shipyard in Ukraine but stalled in the 1990ss due to reduction in military expenditure and break up.

The cruiser initially named as Admiral Lobov was renamed the Ukraina in 1992.

According to news portals, Russian-Ukraine intergovernmental commission discussed the purchase of the Ukraine last week.

“We agreed with the Ukrainian side that we will consider all variants of the ship’s fate and present our proposals by the next meting in the fourth of the year,” said Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, Commander of Russian Navy.

A another senior Russian Navy official told RIA Novosti the cruiser was only 50% complete and that the repairs and upgrade would cost up to 35 billion rubles.

For the price of this ship, four Kilo class diesel electric submarines or four Steregushchy class corvettes can be acquired for the Russian Navy. We will see if Moscow will pay that amount for a single old warship, to reset relation with Kiev or to buy newer corvettes which are desperately need.

>The Resurrection Of The Russian Black Sea Fleet

>Эй, ухнем!
Эй, ухнем!
Ещё разик, ещё да раз!”

All together!
All together!
Once more, once again, still once more

The famous “Ei Ukhnyem”, or “The Song of the Volga Boatmen” starts with a deep, slow and heavy chorus, slowly increasing in tone. It is a motivational song, helping the exhausted Burlaks endure the burden, struggle more, once again, once more. Just like the well known painting with the same name, “Ei Ukhnyem” is the symbol of doggedness, struggle and slow-but-strong steps forward. The struggle for Volga, for keeping the boats afloat in Volga and for pride.

As is the case with Черноморский Флот, the Black Sea Fleet.

Formed in late 18th Century, Black Sea Fleet is responsible from the naval operations in Black Sea Region and Mediterranean Sea, especially Eastern Mediterranean. The strength, both in terms of manpower and equipment, decreased dramatically right after the collapse of the Soviet Union, followed by disputes between Russian Federation and Ukraine on the ownership and status of the primary base of the fleet at Sevastopol. However, the rising geopolitical importance of the Black Sea as a gateway between Europe and Caucasus & Central Asia, forced Russia to focus much of its military modernization efforts on its forces in the region. Thus, to secure vital interests on energy transfer, regional influence and hegemony on the hinterland of former Soviet states, Russian Federation is now on the process of resurrecting the once venerable Black Sea Fleet.

Click here to read the whole article written by a good friend of mine.

>Strategic And Military Importance Of The Sevastopol Basing Agreement

>Last week both Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) and Russian Parliament (Duma) ratified the agreement between Russia and Ukraine to extend the use of Sevastopol naval base in Ukraine for Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) for 25 more years after May 28, 2017.

Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg, argues that this agreement has more strategic value than military as the strength of Black Sea Fleet is diminishing every passing year.

He argues that the Black Sea Fleet is essentially a dying enterprise. The average age of the 37 ships of BSF is 28, which makes it the oldest fleet in the Russian Navy. Although it has been promised by Russian military that some of the newly build warships will be send to BSF it will be still inferior to Turkish Navy.

He sees the importance of the deal in its strategic value as Ukraine and Russia are formally resuming a partnership that was dissolved five years ago after the Orange Revolution. This partnership will have major economic and political benefits for both countries and will keep Ukraine out of NATO.

His analysis and thoughts are worth of reading.

Military significance of the Sevastopol basing agreement

The strategic significance of the Sevastopol basing agreement

>Varna Visit Of BlackSeaFor Is Over

>
According to the Blackseafor commander, the On-Call Naval Force of Black Sea navies BlackSeaFor has left the Bulgarian port of Varna to conduct its next stage of exercises. The April 2010 activation of BlackSeafor is scheduled to end on 27th April and is commanded by Bulgarian Navy.

As reported earlier, the first stage of the exercises was conducted in the south-western region of the Black Sea which involved search and rescue operations, and replenishment and refuelling at sea as well as monitoring of civilian aircraft.

During the next stages, the Blackseafor warships will exercise tactical manoeuvres, conduct combat operations against surface ships, practise air defence and communications, assistance to ships in distress and ship inspection.

Click here for photos of the Ereğli port visit.

>A Busy Weekend In Black Sea

>

The Canadian Halifax class frigate F-337 HMCS Fredericton is in Istanbul for a port visit. She arrived on 10 April morning.

In the mean time there is a lot of activity in the Black Sea right now. Turkish frigate F-244 TCG Barbaros and submarine S-350 TCG Batıray are visiting Sevastopol Ukraine. One other foreign warship visiting Ukraine this weekend is US frigate FFG-32 USS John L Hall. She is in Odessa.

But this not all of it. Turkish fast attack craft P-332 TCG Mızrak and P-337 TCG Atak are in Sinop with survey ship A-588 TCG Çandarlı. Whereas frigates F-241 TCG Turgutreis and F-246 TCG Salihreis are in Samsun with fleet tanker A-580 TCG Akar and submarine S-360 TCG İnönü.

>Russia Is Helping Ukraine To Maintain A Submarine

>

Ukraine’s sole submarine the Foxtrot (Project 641) class Zaporizya has entered into a dry dock for an overhaul in February. According to photos she needs the overhaul badly. Press Trust of India reported that Russia will help Ukraine to ensure the technical maintenance of the  submarine.

“We are stepping up our work. We received an application of our Ukrainian partners on the technical maintenance of the submarine, which they repaired and which is going to be put to use,” Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev, first deputy chief of the staff of the Russian Navy, said.

It is an unexpected gesture from Russia. The relations between the tho countries were in an low ebb after Russian Black Sea Fleet, stationed in Sevastopol, Ukraine took part in the Russian Georgian War of 2008.

May be the Russian help is just a gesture of goodwill to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich who has dismissed the country’s head of naval forces Admiral Igor Tenukh.

President Viktor Yanukovich dismissed Tenyuh from his position for ordering Ukrainian naval vessels to block the entrance of the Russian navy to the bay of Sevastopol, in response to the Russian Georgian War of 2008.

I am sorry to say that but Zaporizya is a very old bout in a very bad shape and with a very little life left in her. Thus the price Ukraians are paying to Russia for the maintenance of that old boat seems to be too much. But Russians arte god at such deals. Ask the Indians who are paying dearly for the Admiral Gorshkov

>How Does Economic Downturn Affecting Navies?

>The influential and prestigious Proceedings magazine published by US Naval Institute, asked the commanders of the world’s navies: The global economic downturn is obviously affecting the United States and its Navy. How is it affecting your navy’s maritime strategy, operation, and force structure?

Here are the answers of 3 commanders from this part of the World.

  • Admiral Uğur Yiğit, Commander of Turkish Navy responded:

Turkey, a crucial player in both regional and global economies, has endured the consequences of the recent financial crisis. With looming cuts in resource allocations and unexpected changes in foreign currencies, the Turkish Navy has rigidly monitored its budgetary practices and initiated preventive measures, including expenditure reductions and prioritization of major projects. These measures ensure a minimal impact on both our combat readiness and modernization plans.

With a heavy bias toward operational readiness at all times, the navy strives to maintain a cost-effective sustainable operational tempo. It will surely continue to do so in the days to come, providing maritime security in the nation’s surrounding seas and participating in national as well as NATO and multinational training, exercises, and operations.

Click here to read the full text.

  • Vice Admiral Georgios Karamalikis, Commander of Greek Navy responded:

It is an indisputable fact that economic recessions always affect societies and states in profound ways. As an economy shrinks and social demands multiply, reduced state funding seeks to stimulate activities and services that will once again put the economy back on track. In that context, the Hellenic Navy (HN) has thoroughly re-evaluated its 2010 budget structure by revisiting priorities and reallocating funds in the spirit of minimizing consumer expenditures and thus support vital programs concerning personnel and maintenance.

With the current contracted public spending, the Hellenic Navy has decided not to deviate from its maritime strategy regarding challenges in the national and international domains while maintaining a high level of operational readiness, and continue with all major procurement programs already in progress. At the same time, cost cuts in administrative expenses are in place, while there is a systematic endeavor to reduce maintenance costs by making the best use of its navy yards’ work force and capabilities.

Click here to read the full text.

  • Admiral Igor Tenykh, Commander of Ukranian Navy responded:

At this point, Ukraine does not have ambitions to extend a permanent military presence beyond the Black Sea region. Consequently, our maritime strategy is not so ambitious and does not require a significant amount of national resources. The strategy is mostly directed at typical duties including immediate reaction to and neutralization of any kind of threats from the sea and participation in multinational peace support and stability operations in the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions.

In that respect the Ukrainian Navy leadership took all necessary efforts to maintain the navy’s ability to fulfill its tasks and objectives. Financial resources have been directed to sustain a sufficient level of sea, air, and ground training to support naval readiness. This allowed us to maintain operational capabilities and retain the core strength of the national naval forces.

Click here to read the full text.

>Russia, Ukraine To Patrol Sea of Azov Jointly

>According to Ukrainan English-language newspaper KyivPost, Russian and Ukrainian coast guards are due to launch a joint operation in the Sea of Azov on 1 March 2010 Monday, to ensure unrestricted navigation and protect the sea’s natural resources, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) coast guard department for the Black Sea and Sea of Azov said on Friday.

“The Sea of Azov is part of the internal waters of Russia and Ukraine, and the border guards of the two states conduct joint law enforcement activities there,” the department said.

Besides customary exchanges of information on offender vessels, the operation plan includes joint patrolling of shipping routes in fishing regions and simultaneous inspections of vessels by Russian and Ukrainian guards.
 
If true, this could be one of the few collaboration between the two nations in maritime domain, where their relation is not usually cordial.

>News From Black Sea Navies

>Ukraine’s sole submarine the Foxtrot (Project 641) class Zaporizya has entered into a dry dock for an overhaul. It is obvious that she needs the overhaul badly. According to Jane’s Fighting Ships, she is still in commission, but there are no reports of activity since 2004.

In the mean time the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Slava (Project 1164) class cruiser Moskva has left the dry dock recently. There are rumors that she will be permanently posted to the Far East Fleet. If the rumors should turn out to be true, then Russians will really need to commission new ships pretty soon.

>A hot spring and a long summer for the Black Sea

>With the arrival of spring and good weather the problems in the region seem to thaw and come to life again.

NATO announced that it was going to conduct exercises Cooperative Longbow 09 – Cooperative Lancer 09 during the period 6 May to 1 June 2009 in Georgia.

Cooperative Longbow 09 will be a command post exercise that will focus on training and exercising NATO staff skills and procedures, improving interoperability between NATO and partner nations for crisis response operations at the multinational brigade level.

Cooperative Lancer 09 will be a field training exercise, which is designed to provide basic training on peace support operations at the battalion level.

Twenty nations will participate: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

Cooperative Longbow will involve approximately 650 personnel and Cooperative Lancer will involve approximately 450 troops.

Russia is not happy about this exercise at all and an official notification proposing that all upcoming military exercises planned in Georgia should be postponed or cancelled was already send to NATO’s general secretary Mr. Scheffer.

Fearing that their demands will not be taken seriously at NATO, Russia is starting naval maneuvers in the Black sea to emphasize their wishes. This week, Russian officials have notified Ukraine that 22 of its Black Sea Fleet vessels will leave Sevastopol for military maneuvers. According to information available on internet this exercise does not seem to have stated.

The timing of the Russian fleet deployment is interesting. Today, one of the biggest annual exercises of the Turkish Navy in Black Sea has ended. The activation of the Blackseafor, where Russia is a member of, is continuing.

The Russian tank landing ship Azov is been listed as a participant of the BlackSeafor fleet. May be the Russians are waiting for Azov to return to Sevastopol before they start with their naval exercise, which will include “three large ships able to carry navy commandos. Three similar-sized ships are currently on patrol near the Georgian coast — near the Abkhaz capital, Sukhumi — which is controlled by the Russian Navy and Abkhaz boats.” according to Radio Free Europe.

Russian Black Sea Fleet has 3 Ropucha class LST’s (Azov, Yamal, Tsesar Kunikov); 3 Alligatos class LST’s (Saratov, Nikolay Fichenkov, Orsk). If the story of RFE is to be true, and 3 them are all ready be cruising off the coast of Georgia, this leaves Russia with only two in Sevastopol.

This naval exercise will be interesting to observe. It will show the rest of the world the state of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and Russian intentions about Georgia and Caucasia.

It is going to be a long and hot summer.

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