NATO kicks off naval drills in the Black Sea
NATO’s Black Sea members Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey joined four other alliance states in a multinational naval exercise on March 10 just across the water from the Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia last year.
The naval rapid reaction force in the Black Sea drills consists of a United States flagship, the guided missile cruiser USS Vicksburg, and ships from the six other participating states. Canada, Germany and Italy are also taking part.
NATO has held a series of exercises in eastern Europe since Moscow’s move into the region to reassure members jittery about Russian intentions in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
The training will include simulated anti-air and anti-submarine warfare exercises, as well as simulated small boat attacks and basic ship handling manoeuvres, a Bulgarian navy spokesman told Reuters.
Relations between Russia and the West are their most strained since the Cold War. Ukraine and the West accuse Moscow of directing a separatist assault in eastern Ukrainewith its own troops and weapons.