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    Russian ships heading for Baltiisk to take part in West 2009 drills

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    A task force comprising four Russian Black Sea Fleet combat ships is in the Mediterranean Sea on its way to the Baltic to take part in the large-scale West 2009 exercises, the fleet said Thursday.

    SEVASTOPOL, August 6 (RIA Novosti) - A task force comprising four Russian Black Sea Fleet combat ships is in the Mediterranean Sea on its way to the Baltic to take part in the large-scale West 2009 exercises, the fleet said Thursday.

    The group consists of three large landing ships - the Azov, the Yamal and the Novocherkassk - and the Ladny Krivak-class frigate. The vessels left Sevastopol on August 2.

    "Now the combat ship task force is in the Mediterranean and is heading for Baltiisk," a spokesman said.

    In mid-August the task force will arrive at the main base of the Baltic Fleet, after which large-scale exercises will start with ships from the Black Sea, Baltic and Northern fleets participating.

    Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in the 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.

     

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