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Crimean Combat Dolphins to Serve Russia

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(CNN) Just when you thought this divorce couldnt get any messier.

Weeks after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, it plans to take custody of the nation's dolphins as well.

Not just any dolphins. The highly-trained military flippers detect risks such as sea mines or enemy scuba divers trying to slip through. Sea mines are sophisticated weapons that can sink ships and other water craft.

The combat dolphin program in the Crimean city of Sevastopol will be preserved and redirected toward the interests of the Russian navy, state-run Ria Novosti reported Thursday.

Dolphins are a crucial part of open water security. They detect sounds and objects in murky waters that human beings cant, making them uniquely effective at highlighting dangers on the sea floor.

Ukraine was using outdated military equipment for the dolphin program and planned to disband it next month, according to Ria Novosti.

The Ukraine defense ministry told CNN that the nation has an ocean dolphin facility, but declined to provide details, saying its classified.

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The dolphin program dates to the 1960s when Russia and Ukraine were part of the Soviet Union, but was handed over to Kiev after independence, Ria Novosti said.

The U.S. Navy in San Diego also trains dolphins and sea lions to help protect its assets and locate dangerous objects in the waters.

Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have escalated since Russia reclaimed the Crimea region following a referendum this month that overwhelmingly supported the annexation. The United States and its allies have pledged to isolate Russia for its actions.

Ukraine also has combat sea lions that operate under the same base. Its unclear whether theyll be barking allegiances to Moscow or Kiev.

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