Military exercises in Black Sea annoy Russia

Photo: AP

The Sea Breeze drills, led by the US and Ukraine, started on Monday in the Black Sea, despite sharp criticism from Russia, news wires reported. They are set to last up to two weeks with the participation of 32 countries from six continents, according to the US military.

The exercises, which have been taking place annually since 1997, will involve over 5,000 troops, 32 ships and 40 aircraft, as well as 18 special operations and a dive team. They are said to focus on areas like amphibious warfare, diving operations, air defense and anti-submarine warfare, among other things.

The Russian Foreign Ministry described the exercises as a provocation and alleged that they were being used to transport weapons and military equipment into Ukraine. The drills come days after Moscow said its navy had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to chase it off the coast of Crimea.

Russia said the British navy ship violated its territorial waters. The UK rejected Moscow's account of the incident and said the ship was making "an innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law."

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