Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) has concluded a port visit to Odesa, Ukraine and a passing exercise (PASSEX) series with the Ukrainian Navy between 10-14 March 2021. SNMCMG2, consisting of the flagship TCG Sokullu Mehmet Pasa (Turkey), ROS Lupu Dinescu (Romania), ESPS Tajo (Spain) and TCG Ayvalık (Turkey), arrived in Odesa on 10 March after patrolling the Black Sea for the past weeks. Over the weekend between 13-14 March, Ukrainian warships Sloviansk, Genichesk and Nikopol participated in a joint PASSEX with SNMCMG2 units, contributing to enhanced interoperability among Allied and Ukrainian assets.
“This port visit and exercises were an opportunity for us to strengthen our relationship with our close partner Ukraine in the Black Sea. Ukrainian Navy is highly professional, and any interaction with Ukraine as a partner is extremely valuable to us.” said Captain Yusuf Karagulle, Commander of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2).
Standing Naval Forces conduct regular interactions with partner nations, thus increasing the common understanding of the regional maritime environment, fostering knowledge exchange as well as cultural understanding and trust. With three Allied nations, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and two regional partners, Ukraine and Georgia bordering the Black Sea, Standing Naval Group presence in the region is a regular occurrence. Patrols by NATO Maritime Groups have increased over the last few years. There were five patrols in 2020.
Relations between NATO and Ukraine date back to the early 1990s and have since developed into one of the most substantial of NATO’s partnerships. Since 2014, in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, cooperation has been intensified in critical areas, including increased NATO presence in the Black Sea and stepped-up maritime cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia. After completion of PASSEX activities the Group conducted a maritime patrol while proceeding towards the Mediterranean Sea to wrap up their first deployment of NATO maritime forces in the Black Sea in 2021.