The Guards missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, paid a scheduled visit to Italy.
Mr Putin and Mr Berlusconi went aboard the ship to be greeted by Black Sea Fleet Commander Vladimir Masorin and ship’s commander Alexander Shcherbitsky. All the ship’s personnel were lined up on the upper deck to welcome the guests. The commander of an honour guard platoon gave the salute to Mr Putin as Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Russia and to Mr Berlusconi. The national anthems of Italy and Russia were played.
Mr Putin and Mr Berlusconi toured the cruiser and inspected its armaments. Mr Putin next climbed down to the wardroom to see the cruiser’s officers and men.
Talking with the crew, President Putin recalled the incident with the submarine K-159 and said a thorough investigation would be carried out.
President Putin also answered questions about development plans for the navy. According to Mr Putin, the budgets of Russia and its armed forces for 2004 allocated funds for ship renewal. He noted that the navy had been showing increased activity lately – this year it held large-scale exercises in the Far East and the Indian Ocean.
At the end of the meeting, a Russian Be-200 amphibious plane designed to put out fires took a demonstration flight. Mr Putin and Mr Berlusconi watched it from the shipdeck.
In token of their visit to the Moskva, Mr Putin and Mr Berlusconi were presented with pictures of the cruiser taken by one of the ship’s sailors.