At the Sea Breeze 2020 manover last June. Image: @DefenceU
NATO and Ukraine launch the roughest manover in recent years in the Black Sea. The potential for escalation is high
32 warships, 40 aircraft and 5.000 soldiers: Today, 28. June, the NATO manover Sea Breeze started in the Black Sea. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s years-long rough-and-tumble with Eastern European partners, most notably Ukraine, has been allowed to further exacerbate tensions with Russia.
Just a few days ago, there was an incident involving the British destroyer HMS Defender, which was transiting the waters off the Crimean Peninsula. From Moscow the deployment at the border is strongly criticized. How gross, then, is the danger of a bellicose escalation in the multi-billion-dollar trial of strength?
In any case, despite protests from Russia, military rubbings began at eight in the morning today (Monday). The manover covers several variants of armed conflict: amphibious warfare, land warfare, diving operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defense, special operations, anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue operations.
The participants, like the Russian side, were allowed to pay increased attention. For on Wednesday of last week, according to Russian reports, a warship of the British Royal Navy is said to have intruded about three kilometers into the twelve-mile zone off the Crimean peninsula. "What happened after that reads in a report in the British Daily Mail somewhat more dramatic than Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to confirm", he said in a Telepolis-report on the events.
Narrow escape from military escalation
The information of the British newspaper was more in line with the version of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Moscow had announced that a Russian patrol boat had fired warning shots – fighter jets had also dropped bombs near the ship. According to the report, the two countries narrowly escaped a full-scale military confrontation. "A British reporter, who was on board the Royal Navy ship, as an eye- and ear-witness, challenges this version", according to the Telepolis-Report.
In a statement issued by the U.S. Sixth Fleet and the U.S. Naval Command for Europe and Africa, respectively, U.S. Embassy in Kiev Executive Director Kristina Kvien said they are "Proud to work with Ukraine in co-hosting the multinational maritime exercise Sea Breeze, which will help improve the interoperability and capabilities of participating nations". They are committed to "to maintain the security of the Black Sea, he added", Kvien added.
The Manover Sea Breeze has been held annually since 1997. Participants are NATO countries and member states of the so-called Partnership for Peace, which – founded in 1994 – has established a military cooperation with about two dozen European and Asian countries. The manover includes operations on land, at sea and in the air. The U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, is responsible.
Since the annexation of the Crimean peninsula to Russia in 2014, the ubung has become much more volatile, as last week’s incident showed.