NATO ships enter Black Sea for exercises

47_1.jpgNATO warships entered the Black Sea on Thursday for what the alliance said were long-planned exercises and routine visits to ports in Romania and Bulgaria.The move is not linked to the tensions over Russia’s invasion of Georgia, which lies on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, about 900 kilometers (550 miles) from the Romanian coast, said officials at NATO’s military command in southern Belgium.

 

Three warships – from Spain, Germany and Poland – sailed into the Black Sea on Thursday. They are due to be joined by a US frigate, the USS Taylor, later this week.

 

They are “conducting a pre-planned routine visit to the Black Sea region to interact and exercise with our NATO partners Romania and Bulgaria, which is an important feature of our routine planning,” said Vice-Adm. Pim Bedet, deputy commander at allied maritime headquarters in Northwood, England.

 

However, the move risks increasing tensions with Russia which has deployed ships from its Black Sea fleet to the Georgian coast.

 

The NATO flotilla includes Spain’s SPS Adm. Juan de Bourbon, Germany’s FGS Luebeck and the Polish ship ORP General K Pulaski. Romanian and Bulgarian ships will join them for exercises during a three-week deployment which NATO says has been planned for over a year.

 

The two Navy ships and a US Coast Guard cutter are carrying relief supplies including bottled water, blankets, hygiene kits, baby food, milk and nappies, said last Friday Commander Scott Miller, spokesman for the US 6th Fleet.

He said the McFaul and the Coastguard cutter Dallas were expected to arrive in Georgia next week and the command ship Mount Whitney around the month-end.

 

We would like to remind that Moscow has previously claimed that its fleet “has a full control of the Black Sea area”.

 

“The Black Sea Fleet has a full control of the Black Sea area, without waiting for external security threats”, said Russian Deputy Chief of General Staff Anatoly Nagovitsyn.

 

“The Black Sea is under control of the Black Sea fleet, by not forecasting a threat”, Nagovitsyn said and confirmed that on the eve German and Spanish naval ships had entered the Black Sea in the course of Georgia. However, Nagovitsyn did not say anything regarding NATO exercises.

 

Meanwhil, according to AP, “Russian troops manned checkpoints and controlled traffic on major highways across Georgia and Russian military helicopters buzzed overhead Friday, the day that Russia’s president had said a pullback would be complete”.

 

Meanwhile, ethnic Russians, in particular residents of Poti, do not want to have anything to do with Russia. According to French portal The Observer, Samira Kuznetosva a Russian blogger from Poti, writes:

 

“I’m Russian, I speak Russian and I feel Russian, but I have the Georgian nationality and I have always lived here, my family moved here a century ago. I don’t feel any animosity specifically against me from native Georgians. This is a small town and we all grew up together. I can imagine that some people feel resentment, but most realise that this invasion was decided by Russia’s government, not by its people. I would also like Russians to leave my town. Yesterday, I went to a demonstration demanding their departure. But they don’t seem ready to withdraw.”

Kavkaz Center

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