Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov: "If We Lose Sevastopol, We'll Lose The Caucasus"

MOSCOW, Russia -- Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov is convinced that a new Black Sea Fleet agreement must be signed with Ukraine.

Sevastopol was never given to Ukraine during the Soviet Union, says Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov.

"I submitted a proposal to finish the new agreement by September. Russia needs to invite Ukraine to the table to consider this agreement," RIA Novosti quoted Luzhkov as stating.

The Moscow mayor referred to Ukraine's recent actions as a "blatant disregard" for the present agreement due to the country's NATO aspirations. He added that Russia is "losing Sevastopol."

"If we lose Sevastopol," said Luzhkov. "We'll lose the Caucasus."

In May 2008, at a celebration marking the Black Sea Fleet's 225th anniversary, Luzhkov reiterated earlier calls to reintegrate Sevastopol and the Crimean Peninsula into Russia.

"Sevastopol was never given to Ukraine," said Luzhkov. "I have carefully studied all the main documents." After the speech, Ukraine's security service declared Luzhkov persona non grata.

Recently, Ukraine's government stated a new agreement must be signed with Moscow that will regulate such issues as the Black Sea Fleet's participation in armed conflicts and ensure Ukraine's soverign right to monitor the fleet while on Ukrainian territory.

Several weeks ago, Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko signed an order stating the Black Sea Fleet's commanding officer must inform their Joint Chief of Staff if Russian ships plan to leave Ukrainian territory.

Russia's Interior Ministry referred to the order as "another serious anti-Russian maneuver" breaking the agreement on cordial relations between Kiev and Moscow.

Source: Kommsomolska Pravda