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Russian Black Sea Fleet Preparing For Maneuvers

Russian marines of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol on April 12
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine -- Russian Black Sea fleet ships based in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol are preparing for large-scale naval exercises, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Russian officials have notified Ukraine that 22 of its Black Sea Fleet vessels will leave Sevastopol for military maneuvers. This notification has been issued every day since the beginning of last week, but the ships' departure has been delayed for unknown reasons.

Among the ships taking part in the exercises are 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.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry expressed concern last week over what it called "the provocative military maneuvers" by Russia in the Black Sea near Georgia. Before the military conflict with Georgia in August, Russian Black Sea ships left their base in Sevastopol and moved to the coast off Georgia.