Maritime forces representing NATO members and partners have deployed to the Black Sea for joint military exercises.
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In a bid to strengthen deterrence and improve interoperability, forces from Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 have rendezvoused in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine to take part in Exercise Sea Breeze 2021.
The exercises — scheduled to take place from 28 June to 23 July — will be co-hosted by the Ukrainian Navy and the US Navy's Sixth Fleet.
The operations are expected to involve a range of warfare types, including amphibious warfare, land manoeuvre warfare, diving operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defence, special operations integration, anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue operations.
Exercise Sea Breeze has included NATO participation since 1997, with this year’s iteration hosting the largest number of participating nations in the history of the exercise.
Over 30 countries from six continents providing 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft, and 18 special operations and dive teams are scheduled to participate over the coming month.
NATO ships regularly participate in both NATO and national exercises in the Black Sea in a bid to reinforce commitments to collective defence.
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has ramped up its presence in the Black Sea, demonstrating support for Ukraine’s sovereignty within internationally-recognised borders and territorial waters.
“NATO does not and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and denounces its temporary occupation,” NATO stated.
“NATO continues to operate in international waters and the alliances actions are always defensive in nature, proportionate in posture, and in line with international laws and conventions.
“The multinational character of NATO deployments, and transparency in all of its exercises and activities, reflects Allies’ fundamental commitment to the principles of collective defence, transatlantic unity, and interoperability in order to maintain peace and preserve security.”
Exercise Sea Breeze is the latest in a number of international demonstrations of support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and security.
Just last week, Babcock International Group, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence, and the UK government signed a tripartite memorandum of implementation (MoI) in Odesa, aimed at advancing a number of major Ukrainian naval projects.
As part of the agreement, Babcock has been tasked with leading British and Ukrainian industrial partners — including MBDA, Thales and Royal HaskoningDHV — to support the Ukrainian Naval Capabilities Enhancement Programme (UNCEP).
The UNCEP involves both the modification of existing naval platforms and the delivery of new capabilities — including fast attack missile craft, a modern frigate capability, shipborne armaments, and the training of naval personnel.
The parties have also committed to developing, implementing and delivering a Shipyard Regeneration Plan.