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US-Ukraine Black Sea drills are wrong signal — Russian Foreign Ministry

September 03, 2015, 15:44 UTC+3

Moscow says the US-Ukrainian naval exercises in the Black Sea are not contributing to a peaceful settlement in the region

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USS Donald Cook, left, and Ukrainian Navy flagship, frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, are moored in the Black Sea port of Odessa, Sep. 1

USS Donald Cook, left, and Ukrainian Navy flagship, frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, are moored in the Black Sea port of Odessa, Sep. 1

© AP Photo/Sergei Polyakov

MOSCOW, September 3. /TASS/. Joint US-Ukrainian navy drills in the Black Sea send a wrong signal, Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"We have to draw attention to the fact that, against a backdrop of more active and constructive discussion about the situation in Ukraine on international platforms, Kiev again starts making bellicose statements, takes decisions aimed at escalating the intra-Ukrainian conflict, tries to shift responsibility for starting a civil was in the country’s south-east on others and complicates Russian-Ukrainian relations even further," Zakharova noted.

She reminded that Ukraine’s new military doctrine approved recently by the country’s National Security and Defense Council "declares that Russia is the main threat." "Then, they plan to redeploy Ukrainian Armed Forces to the south and south-east of the country. Such irresponsible policy will hardly contribute to consolidation of the Ukrainian society," she added.

"Joint US-Ukrainian navy drills in the Black Sea do not facilitate the peaceful settlement in the region as well. This sends a wrong signal," the diplomat stressed.

NATO drills off Ukraine's Black Sea coast

The multinational naval drills Sea Breeze 2015 began on Monday in the Odessa and Nikolayev regions of Ukraine and in the north-western part of the Black Sea.

The current Sea Breeze 2015 exercise will be the largest in its history. The drills will involve up to 2,500 military from various countries. The Ukrainian army’s participating force will comprise 1,000 troops, 9 ships, 8 planes and helicopters, up to 50 wheeled vehicles and about 10 patrol boats from the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service.

The US forces will be represented by up to 1,000 troops with weapons and military equipment, 5 warships, 2 submarines, 6 planes and helicopters and 40 wheeled vehicles.

In addition, other NATO member states and countries participants in the Partnership for Peace Program will send to the manoeuvres up to 500 troops with weapons and military equipment, 6 ships, 3 submarines, 6 planes and helicopters and 10 wheeled vehicles.

"The drills will be conducted in the Black Sea area and ranges of the Ukrainian armed forces, as well as the military airfields Shkolny (Odessa), Kulbakino (Nikolayev), Chernobayevka (Kherson), landing areas of the Tendrovskaya spit (Ochakov) and the Pervomaisky Island, Odessa international airport, Odessa commercial seaport, Yuzhny commercial seaport and the military port of Ochakov (Nikolayev region," the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

The US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, US 6th Fleet Command reported that "Maritime forces from 11 maritime nations will begin the US-Ukraine co-hosted multinational maritime exercise Sea Breeze 2015 in Odessa, Ukraine, and the Black Sea, Aug. 31. Sea Breeze, now in its 14th iteration, is an annual exercise held in the Black Sea which seeks to enhance interoperability and strengthen regional security."

According to NATO sources, participating nations include Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The at-sea phase will focus on maritime interdiction operations as a primary means to enhance maritime security.

Specific skill sets tested in the at-sea phase will include maritime interdiction operations, anti-submarine warfare, and self-defense against small boat attacks. Other warfare areas to be tested include air defense, damage control, search and rescue, and other tactical maneuvers.

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