Remainder of Ukraine’s naval fleet will be relocated from Odesa to Mykolayiv

Remainder of Ukraine’s naval fleet will be relocated from Odesa to Mykolayiv
Photo: vmsu.info

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine insists on transferring the high command of the country’s naval forces to Mykolayiv. The navy is not satisfied with this decision and is complaining about the lack of a strategy for its future existence.

Water and land

Former Consul General of Ukraine in Turkey and today Chairman of the Board of the charity fund Maidan of Foreign Affairs Bohdan Yaremenko informed Capital about the relocation of the Military Naval Forces of Ukraine (MNFU) with reference to sources in its leadership. “According to my information, the Administrative Center of what is left from our fleet is being transferred to Mykolayiv and re-subordinated under generals of land forces. This violates the integrity of the naval forces. In essence, they will no longer be independent and are being transformed from a fleet to a flotilla,” said Yaremenko.

Former Minister of Defense Admiral Ihor Kabanenko confirmed the information that the high command of the MNFU is being re-stationed. “Such was the decision of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and as far as I am aware it was made in the upper corridors of power. The leadership of the fleet was simply presented with an accomplished fact,” Kabanenko informed the publication, specifying that the transfer of management structures of the fleet should be completed by the spring of 2015.

A source of Capital in the General Staff informed that the staff memorandum substantiating the necessity for transfer of the headquarters of the MNFU has already been submitted for signing by the president of Ukraine, though the publication’s source could not say for certain that the document has been signed. “Odesa has the necessary infrastructure for the management of the military naval forces. In Mykolayiv everything will have to build from square one, which is very costly. In addition to that, Odesa is a maritime city with its particular traditions that Mykolayiv does not have as it is situated on a river bank. There is a totally different mentality in this city,” Kabanenko says in criticism of this decision.

As Press Officer of the Odesa Regional Media Center of the Ministry of Defense Yaroslav Chepurniy informed Capital, several military towns are currently being renovated full steam ahead in Mykolayiv to meet the needs of the fleet. A former specialized school for intractable youth, where dormitories and cafeterias are ready to function, was transferred to two battalions of naval forces. In addition to a maritime infantry, a part of coastal defense and maritime aviation forces that were transferred to Mykolayiv after Russia annexed Crimea is now based there.

The publication did not manage to receive arguments from the Ministry of Defense as to the reasons for the transfer of the high command of the MNFU to Mykolayiv. The ministry said inquiries should be submitted officially, which Capital did. Nevertheless, it has not yet received a response.

An officer of the MNFU said talks about the future relocation of the fleet are under way, but the reaction to them is negative, particularly among young officers. “We just settled down in Odesa and now are being relocated again. Officially, it is said that relocation from Odesa is due to the fact that the building occupied by the high command of the fleet is needed to house the Southern Operative Command of Land Forces. In truth, lucrative plots of land owned by the fleet caught somebody’s eye,” an officer who requested anonymity told Capital.

Foggy future

Yaremenko said the need for a powerful grouping of warships for Ukraine is dictated by the geopolitical conditions in the Black Sea region that have evolved. “We must have our own military naval presence in the regions where Russia is the aggressor and where Turkey and Romania, which have sufficiently strong fleets, have their interests,” Yaremenko noted.

He reminded that the issue of defending the Black Sea shelf, where hyrdocarbons can be developed is critical for Ukraine. According to the statistics of open sources, after Crimea was annexed Ukraine managed to preserve only seven warships, including the Sahaidachniy frigate built in 1993. The rest of the ships were built back in the period 1970-1980.

After the Ukrainian fleet sailed out of Crimea its future has been quite unclear. At the moment, there is no concrete program or concept for development of the fleet.

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