Mr Putin described the Azov-Black Sea basin as a zone of Russian strategic interests. The Black Sea provides Russia with direct access to key global transportation routes, including energy routes, President Putin stressed.
However, the problems of navigation and the border regime in the region have not been finally settled. In particular, complicated and painstaking work is needed together with Ukrainian experts to define the final legal status of the Sea of Azov and the Krech Strait. The President said he discussed the topic during his meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart today.
Complications also arise with setting the rules of navigation in the Black Sea straits. The Russian leader mentioned Turkey’s attempts to limit the passage of foreign ships, above all oil tankers, through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles to the Aegean. There were objective reasons for that, he said, but there was also a wish to put pressure on rivals. The President stressed that the principles of navigation in that key area must comply with existing international legal norms and asked the Foreign Ministry to keep the development of the situation around the straits under close watch.
The President called for a thorough analysis of the real advantages of working with the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation and determining the tactics and strategy of Russian participation in its work.
Military-political stability in the Black Sea region can only be ensured if there is an effective system of confidence and security measures, the Russian leader said, stressing that such a system has been put in place in the Black Sea basin with active Russian participation.
Mr Putin spoke in favour of modernising the Russian Black Sea Fleet and its base, stressing that this work must be conducted jointly with Russia’s closest partner, Ukraine.
Comprehensive development of the Russian land and sea border was a serious problem awaiting solution, the President said. He proposed holding a meeting of the Russian Security Council to discuss the issue.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, Director of the Federal Security Service Nikolai Patrushev, Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Alexander Abramov, the Presidential Envoy to the Southern Federal District Viktor Kazantsev, the Governor of the Kranodar Region Alexander Tkachyov, First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov, First Deputy FSB Director and head of the Border Service Vladimir Pronichev, Air Force Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Mikhailov, Chief Naval Commander Vladimir Kuroyedov and Russia’s Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin all took part in the meeting.