NATO’s Sea Breeze 2021 naval exercise to conclude

NATO’s annual Sea Breeze exercise is set to conclude today in the Black Sea. Hosted this year by the US

NATO Sea Breeze 2021 Exercises

Photo: Navy.mil/Ukraine Navy

NATO’s annual Sea Breeze exercise is set to conclude today in the Black Sea.

Hosted this year by the US and Ukraine, the multinational naval drills saw the participation of approximately 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft and 18 special operations and dive teams from 32 countries.

The 13-day exercise began shortly after Russia claimed on June 23 that it fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of the British destroyer HMS Defender to force it to change course from the Crimean city of Sevastopol. While the UK’s Defense Ministry denies that the British ship was fired upon, Moscow warned that it was prepared to engage any NATO vessels entering the territorial waters around Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Although Sea Breeze 2021 has proceeded without incident, tensions remain strained between Moscow and NATO. Moscow’s aggressive posture—claiming that it fired upon the HMS Defender and threatening the NATO exercise—is an indicator that it feels threatened by the bloc. Indeed, the HMS Defender incident was likely exactly what London called it, a Russian drill. Expect Moscow to continue to exaggerate its willingness to militarily confront NATO in the medium-term, speaking to its anxiety over its security in Crimea.

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