As soon as Ukraine, in the process of the collapse of the Soviet Union, declared its independence, the question immediately arose about the further ownership of the Black Sea Fleet of the USSR Navy - one of the most strategically important fleets, which covered the southern borders of the USSR from the sea and was capable, if necessary, to enter the Mediterranean. sea.
A few months before the official termination of the existence of the USSR, the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR adopted the "Act of Declaration of Independence", after which the republican leadership began to create the institutions of a sovereign state, including the armed forces.
On August 24, 1991, all the armed formations of the Soviet Army and the Navy, the Internal Troops of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Border Troops of the KGB of the USSR, stationed on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR, including the Crimea, were reassigned to the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine. In October 1991, the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine made a decision on the subordination of the Black Sea Fleet of the USSR Navy to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Black Sea Fleet had the status of an operational-strategic association, which implied the preservation of its organizational structure and unity. In accordance with the agreement of the heads of the CIS member states, signed on December 30, 1991 in Minsk, all the countries that entered the CIS received the right to create their own armed forces. But the strategic forces, including the Black Sea Fleet, were to remain under the unified command of the General Command of the CIS Armed Forces, created to replace the abolished USSR Ministry of Defense.
Kiev, however, had other plans for the Black Sea Fleet. The newly minted leaders of independent Ukraine were eager to acquire their own Black Sea Fleet, which was only possible if the division of ships, personnel and property of the USSR Black Sea Fleet was taken into account. And, despite the existence of an agreement in Minsk, the Ukrainian leadership, already in the fall of 1991, embarked on a course for the division of the Black Sea Fleet and the creation of its own Naval Forces of Ukraine. Naturally, such a position could not fail to meet with a negative reaction not only from Moscow, but also from most of the personnel of the Black Sea Fleet of the Navy, as well as residents of its main base, the hero city of Sevastopol, associated with the fleet.
The situation around the Black Sea Fleet was heating up. On April 5, 1992, the President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk signed a special decree "On the transfer of the Black Sea Fleet to the administrative subordination of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine." Russian President Boris Yeltsin reacted to this decree of his Ukrainian colleague with his decree "On the transfer of the Black Sea Fleet to the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation", signed on April 7, 1992. However, at that time, the confrontation between the two states did not go beyond decrees. The presidents of Russia and Ukraine met in Dagomys and, following the meeting, made a decision to cancel their decrees. Negotiations on the fate of the Black Sea Fleet and the prospects for its division between Russia and Ukraine continued.
Uncertainty about the status of the Black Sea Fleet only complicated the situation. Despite the fact that the leaders of the two states agreed to begin the gradual formation of two fleets on the basis of the former Black Sea Fleet of the USSR Navy - the Russian Navy and the Ukrainian Navy, Kiev was trying with all its might to get its hands on most of the weapons and property of the Black Sea Fleet. At the same time, the new Ukrainian authorities did not stop all kinds of provocations against the sailors of the Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea, and (especially) in Nikolaev and Odessa.
In 1992, Ukraine attempted to seize the newly built aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. At that time, he was part of the Black Sea Fleet, but was preparing for the upcoming transfer to the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy. Kiev decided to prevent this, dreaming about its own aircraft carrier. Despite the fact that Ukraine did not have and could not have access to the oceanic expanses, ambitious Ukrainian nationalists decided that the country must definitely acquire its own aircraft carrier.
But if the nationalists were full of ambitious plans, then the administration of Ukrainian President Kravchuk looked at things more realistically. Most likely, "Admiral Kuznetsov", if it fell into the hands of the Ukrainians at that time, would soon be sold to some third state, for example - China or India. President Leonid Kravchuk sent a special telegram to the commander of the aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov" that from now on the ship is the property of the Ukrainian state. However, both the aircraft carrier commander and the crew officers turned out to be principled and patriotic people.
Under the leadership of the First Deputy Commander of the Northern Fleet, Vice Admiral Yu. G. Ustimenko began a special operation to relocate the ship. At night, without any signals, the aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov" left Sevastopol and headed for the Bosphorus, passing it without a mandatory request from the Turkish command. After 27 days of crossing, an aircraft carrier was solemnly greeted at Vidyaevo, which managed to avoid the deplorable fate of being transferred to Ukraine.
On March 13, 1992, another provocation took place. The deputy commander of the submarine division of the Black Sea Fleet, Captain 1st Rank Lupakov, and the assistant commander for work with the personnel of the B-871 submarine, Lieutenant Commander Petrenko, who went over to the side of the Ukrainian Navy, tried to organize the Ukrainian oath of allegiance by the crew of the B-871 submarine. At about 19:00 pm, Lupakov and Petrenko arrived at the pier of a submarine brigade in the South Bay of Sevastopol and ordered Ukrainian servicemen to gather on a submarine to carry things to the ship's commander. The submarine officers and warrant officers were invited "for a serious conversation."
None of the boat's personnel knew that an attempt was being made to hold the Ukrainian oath. Lupakov, having gathered the personnel of the boat, read out the text of the Ukrainian oath. However, only five officers and only one sailor of the submarine put their signatures under the oath. The senior assistant to the boat commander, Captain 3rd Rank Leukhin, was deliberately removed from communication with the shore so that he could not interfere with the oath.
But the sailors said their weighty word. A. N. Zayats and M. N. Abdullin sealed themselves in the fourth compartment of the boat, turned off the ventilation of the battery and threatened to blow up the boat if Lupakov's illegal actions to take the Ukrainian oath did not stop. Then the other sailors of the boat joined them. As a result, the captain of the 1st rank Lupakov was forced to disgracefully flee from the submarine. The idea of swearing in the crew of the boat completely failed.
One of the most famous provocations of the Ukrainian authorities was the seizure of the 318th battalion of the Black Sea Fleet reserve ships, which was based in the Odessa port. On the night of April 10-11, 1994, a 160-man unit of the Bolgrad Airborne Division of the Armed Forces of Ukraine arrived at the location of the 318th division of the reserve ships of the Black Sea Fleet. Ukrainian paratroopers were armed with automatic weapons and combat grenades. They arrested the servicemen on duty in the battalion, including the battalion commander, Captain 1st Rank Oleg Ivanovich Feoktistov. The Ukrainian military demanded that the officers and warrant officers of the division lie on the floor under the threat of using weapons.
The soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine “came” to the rooms where about ten families of officers and warrant officers of the division lived. Women and children were also attacked, for example, the twelve-year-old son of the battalion commander Feoktistov was also put on the floor, threatening with a machine gun. The search continued for three hours in the division's premises, which in reality was more of psychological pressure and outright robbery. Later it turned out that during the search, the servicemen and their family members lost money, gold things, food from the refrigerators.
At two o'clock in the morning the sailors of the battalion were taken away in KamAZ vehicles to the location of the Ukrainian military town “Chernomorskoe”, and the officers and warrant officers were left at the base of the battalion. In the morning the officers and warrant officers were given three minutes to take the oath to Ukraine. Some, especially those who did not have their own homes in the city, were forced to surrender - otherwise they were threatened to simply throw them out into the street. By the way, the battalion commander, Captain 1st Rank Feoktistov, was taken to the cardiology department of the local hospital after the search.
The provocation against the 318th division of reserve ships is one of the most famous, but not the only such trick of the Ukrainian authorities against the sailors - the Black Sea sailors. For several years, the Ukrainian military was engaged in psychological treatment of military personnel - officers and warrant officers of the Black Sea Fleet of Ukrainian nationality, who were persuaded by threats and promises to take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine. Kiev was well aware that even leaving the ships of the Black Sea Fleet, it would be simply impossible to service them without qualified specialists. Therefore, the goal was set to achieve the transition to service in the Ukrainian Navy as much as possible of the career military - officers and warrant officers of the Black Sea Fleet.
A huge role in the preservation of the Black Sea Fleet for Russia was played by his commander in 1991-1992. Admiral Igor Vladimirovich Kasatonov. It is interesting that Igor Kasatonov was, one might say, a "hereditary" commander of the Black Sea Fleet - in 1955-1962. this position was held by his father, Admiral Vladimir Afanasyevich Kasatonov. Therefore, Igor Kasatonov, like no one else, knew, loved and appreciated the Black Sea Fleet and did everything possible so that in the most difficult period of 1991-1992. keep it together. It was he who gave the order to the officers and sailors of the fleet not to take the oath of allegiance to Ukraine.
Kasatonov managed to establish effective cooperation of Black Sea sailors with veteran organizations, with the public of the city of Sevastopol, and enlist the support of the press. Moreover, he practically did not receive support from Moscow - Yeltsin and his entourage at that time had no time for the problems of the Black Sea Fleet, besides, Moscow was trying hard to improve relations with the West, and the weakening of Russian influence in the Black Sea, as we know, was always "golden a dream "first of the British and French, and then of the Americans.
In the end, Ukraine managed to lobby for the removal of Admiral Kasatonov from the post of commander of the Black Sea Fleet. In 1992, he resigned, albeit with a promotion - he became First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy (and held this position until 1999, when he retired at the age of 60).
However, Vice Admiral Eduard Dmitrievich Baltin, appointed by the new commander of the Black Sea Fleet, continued the line of his predecessor. Soon Baltin became the object of incessant attacks from the Ukrainian nationalists, for whom the position of the admiral was like a bone in the throat. In the end, in 1996, Kiev again managed to achieve its goal - Yeltsin dismissed Admiral Eduard Baltin as well.
Only on June 9, 1995, in Sochi, Boris Yeltsin and the new president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, signed an agreement on the division of the fleet. The naval forces of Ukraine and the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy were henceforth to be based separately, and the issues of the division of property were regulated on the basis of previously reached agreements. The fleet's property was divided in half, but 81.7% of the ships were transferred to Russia, and only 18.3% of the ships to Ukraine. However, even with those ships that went to the Ukrainian side, Kiev did not know what to do. A large number of ships and vessels were simply sold for scrap, since the Ukrainian leadership at that time did not have the material capabilities to service its own navy.
However, many years of disputes and the subsequent partition had an extremely negative effect on the state of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. In February 1996, the then Chief of Staff of the Black Sea Fleet, Vice Admiral Pyotr Svyatashov, spoke at the State Duma of the Russian Federation, who said that the fleet was in an extremely weakened state, since all strike groups were destroyed, there are practically no floating submarines, naval missile aviation, hydrographic and intelligence systems.
By the time of the speech in the Duma, as the vice admiral admitted, the Russian Black Sea Fleet was able to control only a narrow section at the entrance to Sevastopol. Even the ships on duty, due to lack of fuel and repairs, were forced to stand at the base in Sevastopol. In fact, the collapse of the USSR led to a real disaster for the Black Sea Fleet. Only in the 2010s. the revival of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy began, and the reunification of the Crimea with Russia gave the fleet a truly new breath.