MOSCOW, July 1. /TASS/. NATO's Sea Breeze-2021 naval exercise in the Black Sea is provocative muscle flexing and bears outspokenly anti-Russian implications, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Thursday.
"It goes without saying that this is provocative muscle flexing," Zakharova said. "Combat deployment of such a scale near Russian territory evokes a corresponding reaction from us. Washington and its allies are systematically turning the Black Sea from a space of cooperation, created there, into a zone of military standoff. This is being done intentionally, in order to make another region of the world unstable under the United States' guidance and turn it into a source of threat".
"It is beyond doubt that this exercise conveys an obvious anti-Russian message. Examples of this are more than enough," she stressed, adding that one should also bear in mind the incident with the British destroyer that intruded into Russia's territorial waters and dangerous maneuvers by a Dutch frigate on June 24.
"The way we see it, the incidents were coordinated. It is a clear indication NATO is pushing ahead with its aggressive policy towards Russia. While professing its readiness for a dialogue, in reality the North Atlantic Alliance systematically destabilizes the situation along our perimeter borders and increases the risk of armed incidents," Zakharova said.
If it were otherwise, NATO officials would have long responded to Russia's proposal for de-escalation and downscaling of military activity, "and not indulged in provocations with unpredictable consequences and endless falsehoods in their attempts to excuse aggressive actions".
At the moment, an international naval exercise codenamed Sea Breeze-2021 is being held in the Black Sea with NATO countries and Ukraine taking part. This largest naval exercise in more than 20 years will last till July 10. According to the United States, the 32 countries involved delegated about 5,000 officers and men, 32 ships, 40 planes and 18 naval and ground commando groups.