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MOSCOW, April 22 (Itar-Tass) —— Black Sea states’ warships arrived in the Turkish port of Istanbul on Friday to complete BlackSeaFor exercises, Russian Black Sea Fleet spokesman Capt. 1st Class Vyacheslav Trukhachyov told Itar-Tass.
“Warships of the BlackSeaFor naval operative force of Black Sea states came to the Turkish port of Istanbul in the final phase of the spring activation supervised by Russian Navy representative Capt. 1st Class Yuri Zemsky,” he said.
“Before the ships arrived in Istanbul they spent three days training control over commercial shipping, examination of a suspect ship and air defense. Apart from protocol events, sailors will go on sightseeing tours in Istanbul while the international exercises’ staff will sum up the training results,” Trukhachyov said.
“The ships opened to local residents on Saturday,” he noted. The visit will end on April 24.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Cesar Kunikov large landing ship is the BlackSeaFor flagship. The exercises will also involve Bulgarian and Romanian corvettes, a Turkish frigate and a Ukrainian mine sweeper.
The BlackSeaFor group was formed in Istanbul on April 2, 2001. Black Sea countries – Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine – expressed their readiness to contribute to regional security and stability and the strengthening of neighborly relations and agreed to form an international naval force. The agreement was ratified by all member states in 2002. Each member country becomes the naval group commander by turn.
BlackSeaFor can deliver humanitarian aid and perform environmental protection, demining, rescue and search missions. It also may take part in UN or OSCE operations and other international activity. The group has exercises twice a year, in April and in August.