Russia vows to abide by agreements with Ukraine on Black Sea fleet

Police officers guard the Crimean Cabinet of the Ministers building.

MOSCOW - Russia will abide by treaties regarding its Black Sea fleet in Ukraine's Crimea region, the foreign ministry said Thursday, after Ukraine's interim leader warned Moscow to keep troops at their bases.

"Regarding the statements about Russia's violation of the agreements on the Black Sea fleet, we declare that in the current difficult situation the Russian Black Sea fleet is strictly adhering to said agreements," Russian agencies quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

Ukraine's interim president Oleksandr Turchynov earlier said that any movement of Russian troops out of their Black Sea bases "will be considered as military aggression".

The Russian defence ministry on Wednesday said that it has to take "security measures" in Crimea, where Russia's Black Sea fleet has been based since tsarist times in the port city of Sevastopol.

On Thursday the buildings housing Crimea's parliament and government were occupied by armed men of unknown affiliation who hoisted a Russian flag, and reported sightings of armed personnel carriers on the peninsula proliferated on social networks.

The foreign ministry statement said that "movements of armed vehicles of the Black Sea fleet were carried out in full compliance with the base agreements," without elaborating.