Ukrainians protest over US warship port call
( dpa ) - Hundreds of Ukrainians protested a port call in the former Soviet republic by a US warship, the Interfax news agency reported Monday.
More than 400 demonstrators gathered in the centre of the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, where the American cruiser USS San Jacinto was making an official visit.
Marchers told local news teams the warship launched a helicopter that overflew the city without fling a flight plan with local authorities, and that the cruiser's presence in Sevastopol violated local ordinances.
Sevastopol is in a heartland of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine, and in addition is home port for elements of Russia's Black Sea fleet.
The Sevastopol city hall in a recent resolutions condemned the NATO ship visit, calling it "dangerous for international stability."
Despite the presence of US and Russian sailors in Sevastopol's port area, and aside from the noisy anti-NATO demonstration, the port city's streets were quiet.
NATO exercises with the Ukrainian army hit a stumbling block two years ago when anti-NATO demonstrators formed human chains at the gates of a cargo port, blocking freight lorries intended to carry supplies to the training soldiers.
Ukraine's pro-Europe government has actively supported efforts to integrate the country more closely with NATO, despite two to one opposition on joining NATO by Ukrainian citizens, according to polls.
NATO officials have said Ukrainians' dim view of the alliance is because the Ukrainians are "poorly informed."
The Atlantic alliance, once considered by many Ukrainians as necessary to guarantee peace with Russia, in recent years has suffered a drop in popularity owing to NATO campaigns in Serbia and Afghanistan.