Tim Korso. Sputnik International
The alliance has intensified its military presence in Black Sea waters following a rift in relations between the western states and Russia triggered by a 2014 coup and the start of an internal conflict in Ukraine.
A fleet of at least four NATO warships has docked in the Ukrainian port of Odessa on the shores of the Black Sea, Dumskaya.net online media outlet reported. The ships arrived around 9 am GMT on 10 March, according to the media. The commanders of the fleet are reportedly expected to meet with the leadership of the Ukrainian Navy during the visit to Odessa.
The arriving NATO fleet includes Turkish training ship A577 TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa and three minehunters: Turkish M267 TCG Ayvalik, Spanish TSPS Tajo (M36) and Romanian ROS Lt Lupu Dinescu.
This is the first docking of NATO ships in a Ukrainian port this year, but is far from being the first over the past six years. In 2014, Kiev rescinded its neutral status as a result of a government coup supported by western countries. In 2016, Ukraine set entering the NATO alliance as one of its priorities in foreign policy.
Photo : Russian Defense Ministry
The alliance has also intensified its military presence in Black Sea waters following the start of the deterioration of ties with Russia in 2014. NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stressed the need to further boost the bloc’s military foothold in the Black Sea in November 2020, despite Moscow protests. At the same time, the alliance has so far been reluctant to accept Ukraine in its ranks, citing the need for the country to first meet many issues.