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Beleaguered Ukrainian Forces Press United States for New Warships

Ukrainian navy lost two-thirds of its fleet after Russia seized Crimea in 2014

Ukraine's navy ships are docked along with cargo vessels in Odessa, Ukraine
Ukraine's navy ships are docked along with cargo vessels in Odessa, Ukraine / AP
• September 3, 2015 4:43 pm

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Ukraine is requesting new warships for its navy after it lost about two-thirds of its fleet from the Russian seizure of Crimea last year, Defense One reports.

Ukrainian forces have been battling Russian-backed separatists on their eastern border in a conflict that has claimed more than 6,000 lives since last April. A month before the clashes erupted, unmarked Russian troops seized the Crimean peninsula and most of Ukraine’s naval ships in the Black Sea.

The Ukrainian Navy currently has about 5,000 sailors and just a dozen ships. Those forces joined the United States and nine other nations in naval exercises this week in the Black Sea.

Defense One reports:

Ahead of the exercise, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk met Monday in Odessa with Vice Adm. James Foggo, who commands the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet and is deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe.

At the meeting, Foggo said, Yatsenyuk "made it quite clear to me in both private and open office calls that he values a navy and that he would look forward to modernizing it…Perhaps bringing in some new warships as their budget will support." […]

Over the past year, the Ukrainian Army has garnered headlines as it battles Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. The pro-Europe government in Kiev has pressed the United States and other NATO members for land-warfare arms.

But Ukraine has been asking for naval arms as well. "With a real threat to our country, our Navy must be modern, high-tech, and have the ability to easily work with NATO member countries," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in April.

The Obama administration has so far refused to provide Ukraine with any type of lethal weapons, whether for its Army or Navy. Liam Fox, a former British defense minister, told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday that beleaguered Ukrainian forces need Western help.

"I don’t see it as arming the Ukrainian army, I see it as giving people who are defending their homeland the necessary tools to do it," he said. "They’re defending their homeland against a very serious aggressor in [Vladimir] Putin’s Russia."

Published under: Russia, Ukraine