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This comes as provocations in the Black Sea have increased on the part of NATO states, with Russia stating that the West’s attempts to test its Black Sea borders are “doomed to failure”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its Black Sea Fleet was tracking a Greek guided-missile boat that entered the Black Sea on Saturday.
“The Black Sea Fleet has deployed forces and equipment to monitor the actions of the HS Daniolos guided-missile boat, which entered the Black Sea on July 10, 2021,” a statement read.
Greece is a participant in Sea Breeze 2021 — a military exercise that was conducted by the United States and its NATO allies in the Black Sea from June 28 till July 10, officially — under the commitment to “maintain the safety and security of the Black Sea”. The NATO exercise involved 5,000 soldiers, 40 airplanes and 32 vessels from 32 countries.
While the drills were finished on Saturday, simultaneously, some of the Sea Breeze vessels are taking part in the Bulgarian-led Breeze naval drills, and will remain in the area for some time, the US Navy said.
Earlier on Saturday, Russia warned the US and its allies against military provocations close to its border, which have noticeably ramped up in recent months, pointing out that military maneuvers in the Black Sea — contrary to official claims — undermine security in the region. At the same time, Russia stated that attempts to test Moscow’s readiness to ensure the safety of its borders are “doomed to failure”.
© AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky
Ukrainian helicopters fly over a Russian warship during Sea Breeze 2021 maneuvers, in the Black Sea, Friday, July 9, 2021
“Manoeuvres performed in the immediate proximity to the Russian shores with the use of U.S. and its allies’ destroyers, as well as transport and landing ships—are a provocation,” Russia’s embassy in Washington said, referring to the Sea Breeze drills.
A major incident occurred last month when a UK destroyer intentionally violated Russian territorial waters near the southernmost tip of Sevastopol, Crimea, prompting Russian gunboats to fire warning shots to divert the vessel. The UK government claimed it had every right to conduct an “innocent passage”, justifying it by the claim that it does not recognize Crimea as Russian territory.
Footage of Russian Black Sea Fleet and Border Service of the Federal Security Service’s prevention of the breach of the Russian Federation state border committed by the UK Navy destroyer «Defender» pic.twitter.com/4VnAlMjK4Y
— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) June 23, 2021
Russia said that it was a clear violation of its border and not a “routine” transit, warning that its military may drop bombs on British warships if they test it again in the Black Sea.
“The Black Sea is not the place where such games are permissible”, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said earlier.
However, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab claimed earlier this week that British ships will continue to sail through Crimean waters despite Russia’s warning.
What was most ironic about the incident is a BBC revelation that a bunch of classified MoD docs containing details about the HMS Defender’s provocation in the Black Sea was discovered by an ordinary citizen at a bus stop in Kent, a county in southeastern England. According to people familiar with the matter, some of the papers were marked ‘FOR UK EYES ONLY’ (which means they were not meant to be seen even by close allies, like Washington), and the documents were reportedly mislaid by a senior civil servant.
At the same time, the very presence of such docs proves the fact that the UK government had planned the provocation in advance and — which was very likely — was awaiting a harsh response by Russia.