Russian warships vs. NATO ships in the Black Sea

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The Halifax-class frigate Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Toronto (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Brien Aho)

Russia to monitor the Black Sea visitors, i.e. Canada, Spain and the Netherlands

On March 29, 2019, Russia’s National Defense Management Center reported through TASS that two Russian Navy ships had been assigned to monitor three NATO vessels deployed to the Black Sea to conduct military exercises.

According to the information provided by the Canadian Armed Forces, three warships, i.e. Canadian HMCS Toronto, Dutch HNLMS Evertsen and Spanish ESPS Santa Maria, entered the Black Sea on March 28 for three-week-long maneuvers and patrol mission. Being a part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two, these vessels were joined by three more NATO ships regularly stationed in the region. They are ROS Regele Ferdinand (Romania), BGS Drazki (Bulgaria) and TCG Yildirim (Turkey). The Canadian Armed Forces confirm that the entire group fully abides by the Montreux Convention as well as by other international maritime regulations.

“They are working to preserve peace and promote security in the region.”

In his interview with NSN, Vladimir Shamanov, the former Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Airborne Troops and the current Head of the State Duma Defense Committee, stated that he could not see any prerequisites of escalation of tensions in the region by this particular NATO presence. However, he presumed that Russia would send NATO a message through their diplomatic channels, expressing Russia’s stand on running the risk of escalation.

Meanwhile, major concerns in Russian media were raised in connection with the presence of these NATO warships in the Black Sea, in general, and in the Ukrainian port of Odessa, in particular, simultaneously with the Ukrainian presidential election. In these regards, an unnamed NATO official quoted by TASS reassured that this deployment was a “long-planned, annual exercise led by Romania” with no connection to the election in Ukraine. The maneuvers are meant to include Ukrainian and Georgian coast guard ships. As reported by TASS, the next stop of the NATO vessels will be Georgia’s port of Poti on April 1.

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