The US and Ukraine agreed to conduct joint naval drills in the Black Sea despite Russian rejection.
The drills are aimed to “ensure security” in the Black Sea and improve the compatibility of the US and Ukrainian navies for joint maritime operations as part of multinational tactical groups under the standards of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Thousands of troops and dozens of ships from more than 30 countries are scheduled to participate in the planned drills.
Last week, Russia called for the drills to be cancelled, describing the exercises as a provocation.
The Russian defence ministry said it would react if necessary to protect its own national security.
The naval exercises came as tensions escalate between NATO and Moscow over an incident involving a British warship and Russian forces in the Black Sea.
The incident occurred two days ago when Russia said it fired warning shots at a British navy destroyer in the Black Sea after it violated its territorial waters.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba considered the incident as an “aggressive and provocative” attack by Russia in the Black Sea and nearby Azov Sea, saying Russia is a “continuous threat to Ukraine and its allies”.
The incident took place as EU countries seek to hold an EU-Russian summit to boost coordination between the two parties.
The EU-Russian relations have witnessed a setback over several issues, mainly Kremlin-orchestrated cyber-attacks and election interference, the frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine, and the poisoning and jailing of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the EU has imposed a set of tight sanctions on Russia.
Russia’s Putin responded positively to the suggestion and expressed willingness to participate in the planned summit.