The State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, ratified the Agreement on setting up the Black Sea Naval Group of operative interaction on its plenary session on Wednesday.
The Agreement was signed by the Russian Federation on April 2, 2001, in Istanbul, together with other members, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine.
The Group's main goals include search, rescue and humanitarian operations, sea mine clearing, protection of environment, joint exercises and good will visits. Besides, the Group can be used for the same tasks within the framework of peacekeeping operations carried out under the mandate of the UN Security Council or the OSCE, in case the corresponding request from these organizations is made to the Black Sea states.
Each member state of the Agreement preserves full commandment over its vessels assigned to participation in the Group. The Group's activities are not directed against any third state and do not aim at forming a military alliance against any state or a group of states.
The Agreement on setting up the Group is in line with Russia's long-term interests, considering the creation of regulatory and legal framework for expanding naval cooperation with neighbouring Black Sea states, said Russian Deputy Defense Ministry Igor Puzanov when presenting the draft ratification to the MPs. Russia's participation in the Group will create additional opportunities to increase its role in the Black Sea area, as well as to extend control over foreign naval activities in the region.
The Agreement has already been ratified by Bulgaria and Turkey. Romania and Ukraine are making necessary preparations for ratification. The Agreement comes into force after it has been ratified by any four out of the six member states.
Europe has recognised the need for negotiations with Russia to discuss the security system on the continent. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is going to Macedonia for meetings with colleagues within the OSCE