The messenger logo

Large-scale exercises by NATO member and partner countries kickoff in Black Sea

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Tuesday, June 29
Large-scale military exercises Sea Breeze 2021 have started in the Ukrainian waters of the Black Sea, organized by the US Sixth Fleet and the Ukrainian Navy. The exercise, aimed at strengthening security in the Black Sea region, involves 32 NATO member and partner countries, including Georgia.

“The 31st Battalion of the 3rd Western Infantry Brigade will participate in the planned field exercises in the Kherson region with a platoon level subdivision. It will be involved in the multinational naval headquarters,” the Georgia Defense Ministry said.

In addition to various units of the Georgian Defense Forces, Sea Breeze 2021 will also be attended by the Coast Guard Department of the Border Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. Georgian Coast Guard ships will be involved in the exercise. In addition to the crew members, the Coast Guard will also be involved in the headquarters and boarding components.

Sea Breeze is an annual exercise aimed at enhancing the interoperability of subdivisions in participating countries. Georgian Defense Forces have been participating in international exercises since 2001.

The Sea Breeze exercise has been going on for 20 years, however, it has never had so many participants. The exercise involves 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft and 18 special forces and diving teams. The American missile ship ‘Rossi’ arrived in the port of Odessa to participate in the exercises. Exercises will involve sea, land and air components of the state border guard service of Ukraine.

The military exercises will be conducted in a variety of other scenarios, including scenarios of collisions with landing craft, ground maneuvers, underwater operations, and air defense. NATO's 2nd permanent naval group is taking part in the exercise, which will last until July 23.

Prior to the exercise, the Russian embassy in the United States said that the Sea Breeze “scale and apparently aggressive nature is in no way in line with real security objectives in the Black Sea region, increases the risk of unintended incidents and encourages militaristic sentiment in Kiev.”

The Russian Defense Ministry says it will closely monitor the ongoing exercises in the Black Sea with the participation of NATO forces.

The Russian Federation annexed Crimea in the spring of 2014 after ousting pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych from Kiev. The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Moscow over its occupation of the neighboring country. But despite international sanctions, Russia has strengthened its Black Sea military grouping in recent years to the point where, in terms of balance of power, it clearly dominates this strategically important region.

Russia not only lags behind the Ukrainian fleet in terms of military strength, but also, compared to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the military potential of NATO countries - Bulgaria and Romania - looks quite modest. Turkey may be considered a real competitor to Russia in the Black Sea, but the military priority for Ankara is the Mediterranean and not the Black Sea.

The June 23 incident also angered Russia by the fact that significant international military maneuvers in the Black Sea region with the participation of NATO and Partner military forces and personnel will soon begin, which the Kremlin perceives as a threat to its national security.