In the Black Sea region, NATO is strengthening deterrence and defence with joint exercises and maritime patrols such as the upcoming exercise SEA BREEZE 2021. This is good example to how Allies and Partners provide unique training opportunities, designed to enhance readiness, improve collaboration, and interoperability in the Black Sea region.
NATO warships routinely operate in the Black Sea, consistent with international law, usually patrolling the waters for around two-thirds of the year. NATO ships also regularly participate in both NATO and national exercises in the Black Sea to enhance interoperability, demonstrate presence and assure Allies of the maritime commitment to collective defence. SEA BREEZE exercises have included NATO participation since 1997, demonstrating NATO’s steadfast commitment to Allies and Partners for over 20 years.
Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 will take part in the exercise, which will begin on Monday, June 28, 2021 and run through July 23. Co-hosted by the Ukrainian Navy and the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet, the annual bilateral exercise aims to strengthen maritime security in the Black Sea region. The exercise will focus on multiple warfare areas including amphibious warfare, land manoeuvre warfare, diving operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defence, special operations integration, anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue operations.
Growing in popularity over the years, this year’s iteration will host the largest number of participating nations in the history of the exercise with more than 30 countries from six continents providing 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft, and 18 special operations and dive teams scheduled to participate.
Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has increased its presence in the Black Sea. NATO supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. NATO does not and will not recognize Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and denounces its temporary occupation.
NATO Allies and Partners, improve their ability to conduct the full range of naval and land operations by participating in exercises like SEA BREEZE 2021. The exercise will provide the opportunity for personnel to engage in realistic maritime training to build experience and teamwork and strengthen our interoperability as we work toward mutual goals.
NATO continues to operate in international waters and the Alliances actions are always defensive in nature, proportionate in posture, and in line with international laws and conventions. The multinational character of NATO deployments, and transparency in all of its exercises and activities, reflects Allies’ fundamental commitment to the principles of collective defense, transatlantic unity, and interoperability in order to maintain peace and preserve security.