Russia's Black Sea Fleet could lose its combat capability, given a small number of ships and the absence of new ones, Sevastopol First Vice Mayor Vladimir Kazarin said.
"Some say the year 2017 marks the Fleet's withdrawal. My dear friends! The Black Sea Fleet, in the old understanding, has long left Sevastopol," Kazarin told a meeting of the Center for Social-Conservative Policies in Simferopol, according to E-Krym news agency.
In the Soviet era the Black Sea Fleet had more than a thousand combat units, including over 60 submarines, he said.
"The Russian Black Sea Fleet and the Ukrainian navy taken together have not more than 50 combat units - one submarine for two fleets, and it has just had an accident off Abkhazia," Kazarin said.
If the Black Sea Fleet remains in its current form, only the large amphibious ship Azov will be able to leave Sevastopol Harbor on its own in 2017, Kazarin said, citing Russian sources.
"It will be the only ship with the service life of the engine, hull and other parts exceeded just twice. The others have their service life exceeded three and even four times and they will simply not be able to leave the harbor, because they must not be allowed to sail at sea," Kazarin said.
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