Four NATO ships entered the Black Sea on Thursday in a regularly scheduled deployment to enhance NATO solidarity and readiness in the region.
The ships are from the Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group TWO (SNMCMG2), one of four NATO fleets that operate on a rotational basis. The NATO commander leading the formation is Captain Giovanni Piegaja of the Italian Navy. His flagship is an Italian Navy frigate, the ITS AVIERE, which is accompanied by the ITS RIMINI, also of the Italian Navy, the TCG AKÇAY of the Turkish Navy and the HMS CHIDDINGFOLD of the Royal Navy (UK).
11 combat ships have already entered the Black Sea, news agency Interfax reports with a reference to an anonymous source.
SNMCMG2’s deployment to the Black Sea will include a visit to the port of Burgas, in Bulgaria on 4 July and participation in the Bulgarian Navy led Exercise BREEZE. Later in July the NATO ships will visit Romania, where additional collective training has been organised.
The main objective of the war games is to improve the tactical compatibility and collaboration of the naval forces of different NATO member-states in unexpectedly emerging critical situations. During the exercise, the staff of Bulgarian Naval Forces will be certified for conformity of the level of planning of independent operations to NATO criteria.
‘NATO has considerably stepped up its naval presence in the Western sector of the deeply continental Black Sea after the outbreak of turbulent events in Ukraine and the March 2014 referendum in Crimea,’ Russian media say. According to Igor Korotchenko, editor of magazine ‘National Defence’, NATO’s activity in the Black Sea is nothing but ‘military blackmailing’ posing a threat to Russia’s national interests.