Russia's Black Sea Fleet will deploy fewer personnel but have better weaponry in the future, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Wednesday citing the defense minister.

"The defense minister said the number of Black Sea Fleet personnel ... would be fewer than the current 24,000," said head of the Federation Council's committee on defense and security Viktor Ozerov, according to RIA Novosti.

"We are certainly interested in new weaponry for the Black Sea Fleet," Ozerov cited Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as saying at a meeting with lawmakers in the Russian parliament.

Russia and Ukraine recently signed an agreement extending the lease on the Russian Black Sea Fleet base in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol for 25 years after the current lease expires in 2017.

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev has already instructed the Russian Defense Ministry to prepare a plan for the development of the Sevastopol base, which plays a key role in ensuring Russia's presence in the Black Sea region and the Mediterranean.

According to some Russian naval sources, the Black Sea Fleet could receive up to four frigates and four diesel-electric submarines in the next five years.


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