Russia signals Black Sea fleet expansion plans

28 April 2014 (Last Updated April 28th, 2014 18:30)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the country’s government and Defence Ministry to draft a development programme for the Black Sea Fleet by 1 June.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the country's government and Defence Ministry to draft a development programme for the Black Sea Fleet by 1 June.

A statement issued by the Russian presidential executive office read: "The government of the Russian Federation together with the Ministry of Defense are to work out a programme for the development of the Black Sea Fleet."

The latest plan follows the recent termination of pacts that were signed by Russia and Ukraine in 2010, in the wake of the current political uprisings in Ukraine and Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

"The government of the Russian Federation together with the Ministry of Defense are to work out a programme for the development of the Black Sea Fleet."

The Russian Black Sea Fleet is headquartered in Sevastopol, Crimea. In 2010 Ukraine extended the lease of the naval base to 2042, and had agreed to modernise the fleet in October 2011.

However, the 1997 lease accord does not allow Russia to increase the number of combat ships or modernise its weaponry at the base.

As part of the earlier agreements, Russia had paid $530m a year to the Ukrainian Government for the base, and dismissed $100m of its debt for the right to use Ukrainian sea.

Last month Russian forces reportedly took control of another Ukrainian naval base in Crimea, soon after attacking a headquarters in the port of Sevastopol.

Defence Technology