Spoofing the location of NATO ships, spreading disinformation on social media and threatening military repercussions are typical ploys from a well-worn Moscow playbook, analysts said ahead of an international naval exercise in the Black Sea co-hosted by the United States and Ukraine.
The annual Exercise Sea Breeze comes ahead of Russian threats to potentially fire on participants if they intrude in their territorial waters, and following a heated dispute over the passage of a British destroyer through the Black Sea on Wednesday.
Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 will take part in the exercise, which will begin on Monday, June 28, 2021 and run through July 23. Co-hosted by the Ukrainian Navy and the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet, the annual bilateral exercise aims to strengthen maritime security in the Black Sea region. The exercise will focus on multiple warfare areas including amphibious warfare, land manoeuvre warfare, diving operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defence, special operations integration, anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue operations.
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.
BREAKING: 🇺🇸 @USNavy #USSRoss arrives in #Odesa #UKR to take part in #ExerciseSeaBreeze! This is the 21st iteration of the exercise where +30 countries will join together for interoperability training in the #BlackSea! #SB21 #SeaBreeze pic.twitter.com/CsbUQ9sWCs
— Exercise Sea Breeze (@ExSeaBreeze) June 27, 2021
Ukraine and U.S. 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.