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(From BBC Monitoring International Reports)
Russia's Black Sea fleet is not so much an instrument for defending southern Russia as a "fifth column" that spies on Ukraine and disseminates Russian propaganda, particularly over the status of the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol in Crimea, where the fleet is based. This view has been put forward in an article on the Defense Express web site by Pavlo Karnaukh of the Nomos centre for promoting the study of the Black Sea region's geopolitical problems. The article profiled the fleet's intelligence-gathering components, capacities and aims. It also made the point that, shortly after Ukraine's independence, the fleet's intelligence directorate gained psychological warfare subunits, which the author suggested were responsible for stirring up the arguments over the division of the Black Sea fleet and the ongoing attempts to Russianize Sevastopol. The following are excerpts from the article, posted on 29 October under the title "Black Sea fleet intelligence: guarding the south of Russia, or a 'fifth column' in Crimea"; subheadings have been inserted editorially:
In July this year, the media reported that Rear-Adm Korolev, the chief of Black Sea fleet intelligence, had been appointed to the post of deputy head of the intelligence directorate of the navy's main staff. This seems to be a routine event: an officer has been promoted. But there is one "but"... [ellipsis as published]. The year before last, Rear-Adm Dmitriyev, the chief of Black Sea fleet intelligence from 1998 to 2002, was appointed to the same post. Now Dmitriy Alekseyevich [Dmitriyev] heads the intelligence directorate of the navy's main staff.
I do not know what considerations weighed with the Russian naval command when making the new appointments, but they clearly depart from the pattern established over many years. Previously, "the navy's chief …