Russia has been marking the 225th anniversary of the founding of its Black Sea fleet with a ceremony at its naval base in the Ukrainian port of Sevastapol. Scores of boats took part in the display of Russia’s maritime prowess, past and present. Tall ships sailed alongside state-of-the-art vessels off the Crimean peninsula.
The naval base, which Moscow leases from Ukraine, is often a source of dispute between the two countries. But that wasn’t in the minds of onlookers at the event: “It’s our past, our present, our future and our pride” said this man, one admiring Russian watching the ships sail past.
Russia rents the base under a 1997 agreement with its former Soviet neighbour. But the deal is coming under increasing strain with Ukraine moving towards NATO membership. On senior Kremlin official recently warned that Russia would reclaim Crimea if UKraine joined the NATO alliance.