Opposition Parties Call Arrival Of U.S. Ship A Threat To Ukraine's Sovereignty

KIEV, Ukraine -- Pro-Russian opposition parties on Tuesday railed against President Viktor Yushchenko's government for allowing a U.S. naval ship to enter a Ukrainian port, calling it a threat to the nation.

Kremlin sympathizer Natalya Vitrenko

The USS Advantage's arrival in the Crimean port of Feodosiya this weekend sparked protests and left the government scrambling to explain that it was coming as part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program and was only bringing equipment for exercises this summer in the Black Sea.

Yushchenko wants this ex-Soviet republic to join NATO, but the military alliance remains deeply unpopular here, particularly in the largely Russian-speaking east and south.

Natalya Vitrenko, leader of a political party that is influential on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accused Yushchenko of ignoring legislation that requires parliamentary approval before any foreign military troops or ships enter Ukrainian territory.

She also noted that parliament earlier this year voted to bar foreign troops from participating in military exercises in Ukraine.

"On May 27, an act of state betrayal was committed by Ukraine's top officials," Vitrenko said.

The larger pro-Russian Party of the Regions called the ship's arrival "an attempt to infringe on Ukraine's sovereignty and national security" and urged punishment of those who approved it. The opposition Social Democratic Party (United) also slammed the government.

Navy spokesman Mykola Nedohipchenko said the ship came to participate in Sea Breeze peacekeeping exercises, which Ukraine has been conducting annually since 1997. He said it delivered construction facilities to help Ukrainians update their training ground, bulldozers, lifting cranes, and medicine.

The exercises are to take place in July-August for up to 45 days and involve 17 countries, including the United States.

"The protest is just a political game aimed to cause unrest in Crimea," Nedohipchenko said.

Crimea has a large ethnic Russian population and its main port, Sevastopol - 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Feodosia - is home to both the Russian and Ukrainian Black Sea fleets.

The Defense Ministry said it will ask parliament to approve the training when lawmakers reconvene next month.

The U.S. ship left the port a day after it arrived. Vitrenko, who is known for her anti-American stance, accused NATO of plotting to construct a special permanent military base in Crimea. Ukraine's NATO office did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Source: AP


Anonymous said…
Why doesn't Nataliya Vitrenko consider the Russian Navy, stationed on Ukrainian soil, as foreign troops?

The Kremlin has a good spokesperson in the radical Vitrenko.

When will Putin realize that Ukraine does NOT want to be in Russia's sphere of influence?
Anonymous said…
When will NATO relize Crimia prior to formation of USSR was Never been part UKRAINE. And was always considered an independent entety from Ukraine. So offically after 2007 Crimia if people in the refion want to can be part of Russia. Besides the protesters are getting reinforcemnt from Other Russian Speaking Regions.