(Adds details, background)
MOSCOW May 6 Russia will beef up its Black Sea
fleet this year with new submarines and warships, Defence
Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying on Tuesday,
following the annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
New air defence and marine infantry units would also be
deployed at the fleet's bases, which include Sevastopol in
"New submarines will join the Black Sea fleet, as well as
new-generation surface ships, this year. All this requires much
attention from us," Interfax news agency quoted Shoigu as
Shoigu said the fleet would receive funding of 86.7 billion
roubles ($2.43 billion) by 2020.
The fleet, which analysts say comprises around 40 frontline
warships, is seen as a guarantor of Russia's southern borders
and a platform for projecting power into the Black Sea and the
Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March sparked
the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War. President
Vladimir Putin said last month that Russia's action over Crimea
was partly a response to NATO expansion in Eastern Europe.
Russia also feared Ukraine's new government would cancel a
lease allowing the fleet to stay until 2042.
The West has imposed sanctions on Russian officials,
businessmen and companies in response to the Crimea annexation,
and Washington and Berlin have threatened more penalties if
Moscow disrupts Ukraine's presidential elections scheduled for
($1 = 35.7522 Russian Roubles)
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, editing by Nigel Stephenson)