Mar 01 2014
IF Vladimir Putin is smart, Russia is at present limiting its actions in Crimea to personnel of the Black Sea Fleet, or at the very least claiming to do so. The presence of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea means that Russia legitimately has a large number of military personnel already in the region; Putin doesn’t need send troops across borders to seize airports and government buildings. That doesn’t mean, of course, that Putin’s not violating treaty obligations with Ukraine.
The operations of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet are governed by a series of agreements signed in 1997. A number of them are technical: dividing the Fleet between Russia and Ukraine, specifying which facilities Russia can use, payments for use of facilities, and so on. One key point: the Agreement between Russia and Ukraine on the Parameters of Division of the Black Sea Fleet gives Russia permission to have 25,000 personnel in the Fleet (end of Appendix 2), including almost 2000 marines and 132 combat vehicles (Article 7). That’s plenty to do what we’ve seen so far: Simferopol is only about 40 miles from the Fleet’s main base at Sevastopol.
The broad outlines of the relationship are set out in a different document: the Agreement between Russia and Ukraine on the Status and Conditions of the Presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet on the Territory of Ukraine.
Since my guess is that we’re going to be hearing a lot about claimed violations of that Treaty, I offer here my own translation of the most relevant points:
Article 4/1: “The general number of personnel, contingent of ships, boats, armament, and military equipment of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation located on the territory of Ukraine cannot exceed the level specified in the Agreement between Russia and Ukraine on the Parameters of Division of the Black Sea Fleet of 28 May 1997.”
Article 6/1: “Military formations will carry out their activities in their basing areas in correspondence with the laws of the Russian Federation, respecting the sovereignty of Ukraine, observing its laws and permitting no interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine.”
Article 13/1: “Individuals joining the personnel of military formations cross the Russian-Ukrainian border on presentation of military identification proving their identity.”
Article 25: “The current Agreement is concluded for a period of 20 years, beginning with the date of its temporary application  The term of action of the Agreement will be automatically extended for additional five-year periods, unless one of the parties informs the other in writing of the cancellation of the Agreement no later than one year prior to the expiration of its term of action.”
That deadline was later extended by a 2010 treaty. The Ukrainian text is available here. A Russian translation is available here, though it’s not clear if that’s the official Russian text or a translation of the Ukrainian text. Under those terms, the agreement is extended by twenty-five years from the 2017 expiration, with automatic extension in five-year increments unless denounced a year before expiration.