Plymouth Live – July 4, 2019
The Royal Navy has joined a huge military exercise in the Black Sea that is reportedly angering Russia.
Approximately 3,000 troops from 19 countries – including the the US and the Ukraine and a dozen other NATO allies – are taking part in the 12-day Sea Breeze 2019 exercise, which began in the northwestern part of the Black Sea on Monday.
A total of 32 warships and 24 aircraft will take part in the show of strength – with HMS Duncan sailing into the Black Sea alongside HMCS Toronto of the Royal Canadian Navy, whose Commodore Josée Kurtz is currently in command of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). They were joined by the Turkish frigate TCG Turgutreis and Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand.
The Russian military says it is monitoring the exercise and has voiced concern about previous NATO drills near its borders, saying they threaten its security, reports US website Navy Times.
Conversely, NATO allies have expressed worries about Russian military manoeuvres in the Black Sea – where Russia’s warm water fleet is based at Sevastapol in the Crimea, which Russia controversially annexed from the Ukraine in 2014.
Type 45 Destroyer HMS Duncan has now arrived in the Ukraine, and has been photographed arriving at the Black Sea port of Odesa.
— Viktoria (@Ukropo4kA) July 4, 2019
Russian language news website vestnikkavkaza.net reports that the Russian National Defense Management Center has said “ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are monitoring the British destroyer and the Canadian frigate that entered the Black Sea waters on July 2”.
The Sea Breeze 2019 exercise is taking place while the Royal Navy is also involved in another operation which Russia has been closely monitoring – Operation Baltic Protector – the Royal Navy’s ongoing mission to protect the Baltic and Barents seas.
As part of Operation Baltic Protector, the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Maritime Task Group has seen as many as 4,000 troops -including 1,100 Royal Marines – and 44 ships from seven countries, conduct wargames in the region in recent weeks.
Baltic Protector is a two-month deployment that sends a message to President Putin about the UK’s commitment to keeping the Baltic sea safe. Plymouth-based HMS Albion and 3 Commando Brigade’s Royal Marine Amphibious Task Group (ATG) have been ‘at heart’ of the deployment so far – which has seen Royal Marines practice Commando raids with allied forces – and the Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force hunt down submarines.
Commodore James Parkin, the Commander of the ATG has revealed these exercises have all been closely watched by Russia – who are said to pose a “growing challenge” in the region – and its spy ship Fodor Golovin has been tracking the JEF around the Baltic