Ceremonies commemorating the 225th anniversary of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are being held in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, a city of Russian naval glory. The celebrations went ahead despite attempts by certain political forces in the Ukraine to disrupt them. Ukrainian servicemen are also taking part in the ceremonies. This is a common holiday for both Russians and Ukrainians, given the two countries’ common past, no matter how hard some Ukrainian politicians have been trying to revise it.
The Black Sea Fleet traces its glorious history from 1782, when 11 ships of the Azov flotilla commanded by Rear Admiral Fedot Klokachyov entered a harbour near the village of Akhtiar where a fortress named Sevastopol was founded on orders of Empress Yekaterina II. In the middle of the 19th century, Russian sailors covered themselves in undying fame during the war with Turkey. The heroic defence of Sevastopol against Hitler’s invaders during the Second World War is another glorious page in the fleet’s history. Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, Commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, said that it was in Sevastopol that the Russian national school of naval warfare shaped itself in brave combat exploits.
30 combatants and 10 auxiliary ships took part in a spectacular jubilee parade with Acting Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in attendance. Addressing the sailors of the Black Sea Fleet, he noted that the common holiday of the fleets of Russia and the Ukraine guarantees and strengthens further cooperation between the two countries on the seas, and in the political arena as well. Mr Serdyukov said that the Russian leadership would do its best to strengthen the status of the country as a great maritime power.
The Black Sea Fleet has once again entered the world oceans. The Russian naval ensign can be seen throughout the world, said Andrei Krylov, the head of the press service and public relations of the Fleet. “Warships of the Black Sea fleet sail in the Indian and Atlantic oceans. The latest naval exercises in the Atlantic involving missile launches were successful. The Black Sea fleet can be proud of the fact that its warships patrol the Mediterranean Sea constantly. Our ships visited France, Malta, Tunisia, and Greece in recent years and the sailors were warmly welcomed there. The Russian fleet truly enjoys respect on the seas and oceans”. Sailors of the Black Sea fleet won this respect not only in fighting, but also in peacetime, as a force that makes a contribution to stability and is capable of withstanding any attempts to upset the strategic balance on the world oceans.
11 May 2008
Voice of Russia World Service