Over 2,000 emergency services and 30 ships are taking part in exercise Breeze 2021 in the Black Sea. The Bulgarian-led maritime exercise, which began July 12 and ends today (July 19), includes forces from 14 NATO allies and partners – Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Spain , Turkey, Ukraine, Great Britain and USA.
The exercise aims to improve interoperability between participating units and strengthen NATO’s readiness in the Black Sea region. “The Black Sea is of strategic importance to NATO. The alliance remains committed to the security of the Black Sea, ”said NATO deputy spokesman Piers Cazalet.
Exercise Breeze is an annual exercise that dates back to 1996. This year two of four NATO fleets are participating – Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2).
Since Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, NATO has increased its presence in the Black Sea. NATO ships routinely operate in the Black Sea in accordance with international law and typically patrol about two-thirds of the year. Prior to Exercise Breeze, SNMG2 patrolled the Black Sea and participated in Exercise Sea Breeze, a multinational exercise jointly hosted by Ukraine and the United States.
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