Black Sea

   The Black Sea is an inland sea that washes the Eastern Balkans, Ukraine, southern Russia, Georgia, and Turkey. The sea’s outlet to the Mediterranean, and thus the Atlantic and Indian oceans, is via the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, both of which are controlled by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member Turkey. The surface area of the sea is 436,400 square kilometers, and its maximum depth is in excess of 2,000 meters. Due to its salubrious climate, there are a large number of holiday resorts and spas on the Black Sea coast.
   During the Cold War, the Black Sea was an area of heightened tensions, particularly during conflicts in the Middle East. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia removed its nuclear weapons from its fleet. However, Russia continues to maintain a significant naval presence in the area, known as the Black Sea Fleet (Chernomorskii flot). Sevastopol, a city on the Crimean coast, has been a major sticking point in relations between Kiev and Moscow since 1991. The old Soviet navy was partitioned between Ukraine and Russia, with the latter maintaining a long-term lease on key facilities at Sevastopol. The Russian navy is also based in the Sea of Azov and at Novorossiysk, which is expected to become the headquarters of the fleet after 2017.
   In recent years, Russo-Georgian tensions have resulted in minor skirmishes between the two navies, particularly over the status of the breakaway republic of Abkhazia. The Abkhazian port of Sukhumi is economically tied to Russia, and it is a popular tourist destination for many Russian citizens. In 2008, Dmitry Medvyedev recognized the independence of the republic; the Kremlin later announced that it would establish an air base and naval facilities in Abkhazia. UkrainianRussian relations have also been impacted by Kiev’s demands that it be asked permission before military missions are launched from its territory. During the 2008 South Ossetian War, the presence of U.S. and other NATO warships in the Black Sea drew harsh criticism from Moscow.
   There are a number of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations that unite the various countries of the Black Sea basin, including: the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, the Black Sea Forum for Partnership and Dialogue, and the International Black Sea Club.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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