Ukraine Navy Stripped, Facing Worst Crisis Ever


Ukraine's Navy is facing its worst crisis ever. Its fleet is down from 75 to 28 ships after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula two months ago.

Now military officials are begging the public to help pay for new equipment. Ukraine's Defense Ministry is asking for 50-cent text message donations.

"Times are not the best for the fleet now, but it's also trying to spread its wings," Oleh Chubuk, Ukraine Navy spokesman, said.

Moscow took nearly two-thirds of Ukraine's fleet after annexing the Crimean peninsula.

The loss of Crimea also meant the loss of Kiev's naval headquarters and a key navy base.

Western allies, including the United States, have shown no sign of helping Ukraine re-arm, afraid that offering weapons could disrupt diplomatic negotiations with Russia.

Military officials say despite the challenges morale remains high.

"Many families had to come here and we had support and help from the local authorities and many volunteers. And it gives us inspiration," Chubuk said.

Meanwhile, Russia is slowly returning some of the ships it seized, dismayed by their poor condition.

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