NATO, Russia launch rival military drills in Black Sea

NATO, Russia launch rival military drills in Black Sea
Sat Jul 5, 2014 22:39:20

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia have launched rival military drills in the Black Sea, amid strained ties between the Kremlin and the West over the crisis in Ukraine.

NATO said its war games, which started on Friday in Bulgarian waters in the western part of the Black Sea, more than 200 kilometers from the Crimean Peninsula, were a show of the alliance’s unity.

The strategic Crimean region is now part of Russia.

Six NATO member states are taking part in the drills that will continue until July 13.

Meanwhile on the same day, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet started conducting military maneuvers in the same area.

Some 20 warships, over 20 fighter jets and helicopters as well as the Russian marines are involved in the drills.

Moscow and the Western military alliance have been at odds after the Kremlin accepted a request by Crimea to join Russia.

Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17 and formally applied to become part of Russia, following a referendum a day earlier, in which 96.8 percent of participants voted in favor of the secession.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the move was carried out based on international law.

The move sparked angry reactions from the US and the European Union, both imposing “punitive measures,” including travel bans and assets freezes, against a number of Russian officials as well as authorities in Crimea.

In addition, the US has deployed troops to eastern European countries for joint drills and sent ships to the Black Sea for war games with regional NATO states.

Russia has called NATO’s eastward expansion near its borders as counterproductive. Moscow sees the Western military alliance’s moves as a sign of aggression amid the crisis in Ukraine.


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