Russia has expressed its total rejection of the multinational naval exercises by the US and Ukraine in the Black Sea.
Russian Foreign Ministry considered the naval exercises as “openly anti-Russian.”
Last week, the US and Ukraine agreed to conduct joint naval drills in the Black Sea.
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.
Russia strongly reacted against the plans, calling for the drills to be cancelled, describing the exercises as a provocation.
“This is, of course, a provocative muscle-flexing. The military deployment of such a scale near Russian territory, with openly anti-Russian implications, evokes an appropriate reaction from us,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said at a news conference in Moscow.
“The Black Sea, in fact, is being systematically turned by Washington and its allies from a space of cooperation … into a zone of a military standoff. This is being done intentionally in order to make another region of the world unstable under the US’ guidance,” she said.
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.