Royal Navy tightens military links with Ukraine as top officials visit Portsmouth Naval BaseÂ
LINKS between the UkrainianÂ military and Royal NavyÂ were strengthened as a defence chief from the embattled European state made a rare visit to Portsmouth.
Lieutenant General Anatoli Petrenko, Ukraine's deputy defence minister visited Portsmouth Naval base as part of a wider tour across the UK.
The officer's visit comes as Ukraine marked its fifth year of brutal fighting against Russian-backed rebels.
It's a conflictÂ which has killed 3,000 civilians and has left 900,000 people in the war-torn nation struggling to eat, according to the UN this week.
Hosted byÂ Vice AdmiralÂ Ben Key, fleet commander,Â and commander UK maritime force Rear Admiral Jerry Kyd, Lt Gen Petrenko was given a brief on the naval base and recent investment in the infrastructure as well as a ship's tour of minehunter HMS Middleton.
The visit concluded with discussions on the continued cooperation between the Ukrainian Navy and Royal Navy, particularly around security in the Black Sea.
Earlier this year Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan was part of a Nato maritime task group operating in the Black Sea to ensure stability in the region.
Captain David George, captain of Portsmouth Naval Base,Â said: '˜It was a pleasure to welcome Lt Gen Petrenko to the naval base and show him the continued investments the Royal Navy has undertaken in infrastructure, ships and people.Â
'˜The deployment by HMS Duncan further demonstrates the commitment of the Royal Navy to our partners worldwide and to ensuring the security of other nations.'
Lt Gen Petrenko's trip followedÂ a visit to Ukraine by defence secretary Gavin Williamson in September during which he also announced the introduction of a permanent naval attachÃ© to help build Ukrainian naval capability.
Lt Gen Petrenko was joined in his visit by the Ukrainian ambassador to LondonÂ Natalia Galibarenko and commander of the Ukrainian Navy Vice Admiral Voronchenko, who also visited the naval base back in June.