MOSCOW, July 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Black Sea Fleet should have at least two main bases, in Sevastopol and Novorossiisk, the first deputy chief of the Navy General Staff said on Saturday.
"The fleet should not have a single base [in Sevastopol] because it would be a mistake to put all our eggs in one basket," Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev said in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio station.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine's Crimea, including the main base in Sevastopol, as part of a 1997 agreement, under which Ukraine agreed to lease the bases to Russia until 2017.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko announced last summer that Ukraine would not extend the lease of the Sevastopol base beyond 2017, and urged the Russian fleet to start preparations for a withdrawal.
Burtsev said regardless of the outcome of the talks on the extension of the 1997 agreement on Russian naval facilities in Ukraine Russia will continue the development of infrastructure in Novorossiisk.
"We have no other option but to develop the infrastructure at the base in Novorossiisk," he said.
In 2003, President Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree setting up a naval base for the Black Sea Fleet in Novorossiisk. Russia has allocated 12.3 billion rubles (about $480 million) for the construction of the new base between 2007 and 2012.
The construction of other facilities and infrastructure at the base, including for coastal troops, aviation and logistics, will continue until 2020.