Saturday, June 26, 2021

Massive Exercises To Begin In Black Sea Despite Russian Warnings

Massive exercise in Black Sea with US comes after Russia warning

On June 21 the US Sixth Fleet announced it would participate in the Sea Breeze exercise that will take place from June 28 to July 10. The US says that “this year’s iteration has the largest number of participating nations in the exercise’s history with 32 countries from six continents providing 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft, and 18 special operations and dive teams scheduled to participate.” 

This is important because it comes days after a UK warship and Russia appeared to clash off the coast of Crimea. Ukraine claims Crimea, but Russia annexed the area in 2014. There have been other tensions between Russia and Ukraine and Russia and the US, increasingly at sea in recent years. Ukraine is fighting a war against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russia has warned the UK against what it sees as provocations.  

This means that this year’s exercise, as large as it is, has more ramifications for the region. The US says that “Ukraine and the US are cohosting the exercise in the Black Sea with participation and support coming from 32 countries in total: Albania, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.” 

According to Reuters, Russia has warned the US and UK not to “tempt fate” in the Black Sea. The Black Sea is only one place where there are naval tensions. Last year Turkey threatened Greece repeatedly and the country’s came close to possible conflict. The US has expressed support for Greece and Cyprus. However, maritime issues matter because Israel, Greece and Cyprus want to construct an East Med pipeline and they are part of a gas forum with Egypt. In addition. Israel has received two new Sa’ar 6 advanced corvette warships in the last year. This is important for Israel’s naval footprint and the wider region. 

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