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Russia to keep close watch on NATO-Ukraine Sea Breeze drills in Black Sea

NATO plans to engage up to 4,000 military personnel, 40 combat ships and vessels, 30 aircraft and more than 100 items of the armor in the Sea Breeze drills

MOSCOW, June 2. /TASS/. Russia will closely follow the preparations for and the course of NATO’s Sea Breeze drills, which will be held jointly with Ukraine in the Black Sea, and will react in the interests of its security, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.

"The Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation will closely follow the preparations for and the course of the Ukrainian-American exercise Sea Breeze with the involvement of NATO countries and will, if necessary, react appropriately to the developing situation in the interests of ensuring Russia’s military security," the spokesman said.

NATO plans to engage up to 4,000 military personnel, 40 combat ships and vessels, 30 aircraft and more than 100 items of the armor in the Sea Breeze drills, the Russian general said.

"This exercise will involve about 4,000 troops, 40 combat ships, vessels and auxiliary craft, 30 aircraft and over 100 motor and armored vehicles," he specified.

The drills will be held "amid the Western countries’ incessant accusations of Russia’s alleged efforts to build up its military potential in the country’s southeastern frontiers," Konashenkov said.

Ukraine, NATO to practice Army, Navy and Air Force interoperability in drills

The upcoming Ukraine-NATO joint exercises, dubbed Sea Breeze, will drill the interoperability of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

"The basic elements, which the drills will practice for the naval component will include forming and ensuring the cohesion of a multinational naval task force, organizing the navy’s interaction with the ground forces and aircraft, planning and conducting joint operations, employing an amphibious assault force in joint operations with land troops," the general said.

As its basic task, the land component will practice organizing the headquarters’ work for planning and carrying out operations under NATO standards, redeploying forces and capabilities to combat employment areas, organizing and conducting an offensive in the maritime area in interaction with a seaborne assault force, the spokesman added.

"The air component will practice employing combat aircraft in the interests of the fleet and the ground forces, conducting air reconnaissance, delivering strikes against sea and ground targets and transporting troops and cargo," the Russian general said.

Under the drills’ scenario, the coalition force will be involved in stabilizing a crisis situation caused by the activity of some armed formations outlawed in Ukraine and enjoying the all-out support of a neighboring state, the Defense Ministry spokesman said.

NATO, Ukraine to employ special operations forces in Sea Breeze drills in Black Sea

NATO’s Sea Breeze drills in the Black Sea together with Ukraine envisage employing commandos, Konashenkov said.

"Let me emphasize that the employment of an amphibious assault force is planned for the joint operations of special forces with the Ukrainian land troops on the territory of Ukraine," the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

"Specifically, this will take place at military practice ranges in the Kherson and Nikolayev regions," the general said.

The active phase of the drills will run in two stages. At the first stage, the troops will practice deploying command and control and communications centers, planning an operation, setting up taskforces of combat ships and redeploying aircraft to dispersal airfields, he specified.

The second stage will envisage a set of measures "to stabilize the situation," in particular, to use firepower to strike enemy surface combatants and also submarines, air and anti-submarine defenses, he added.

"Therefore, although the drills are a naval exercise by their status and even by their name, their true boundaries of military activity go far beyond the limits of the Ukrainian section of the Black Sea. It is there, on the territory of Ukraine, that commandos will practice interoperability of special operations forces of various national affiliation in jointly accomplishing tasks, as well as airborne assaults with parachutes and from helicopters, including at night," the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and the US European Command plan to hold joint drills on June 28 — July 10 with the involvement of NATO countries, according to the data of Russia’s Defense Ministry. The drills will bring together Ukraine, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Latvia and partner countries.