No country can claim the Black sea or international waters, says the captain of the U.S. Navy destroyer following the end of the Sea Breeze 2021 exercises.
Ukraine and NATO have conducted a two-week military exercise in the Black sea with the participation of dozens of warships from NATO allies.
Multinational maritime exercise Sea Breeze 2021, which concluded on Saturday, was conducted with the leadership of the Ukrainian Navy and the Sixth Fleet of the United States. The naval drills involved about 30 warships and 40 aircraft from NATO members and Ukraine.
"Sea Breeze-2021 training has ended! All assigned tasks have been completed in full," Commander of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Oleksiy Neizhpapa said on Facebook.
Captain of the USS Ross, a U.S. Navy destroyer that took part in the drills, said the exercise was designed to improve how the equipment and personnel of the participating nations operate together.
“We’d like to demonstrate to everybody, the international community, that no one nation can claim the Black Sea or any international body of water,” Commander John D. John said aboard the guided-missile destroyer previously deployed to the area for drills.
"Those bodies of water belong to the international community, and we’re committed to ensure that all nations have access to international waterways," he added.
The American Commander's remarks of water claim came following an incident last month involving Russia's threat of free navigation in the Black sea, near the coast of the Crimean peninsula which Russia seized from Ukraine with a military movement in 2014.
Sea Breeze 2021
A total of 32 countries, including most Black Sea nations, NATO allies and partners were attended the Sea Breeze exercise conducted between June 28 and July 10.
The exercise included 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft, and 18 special operations and dive teams and will last through July 10.
This year's maritime exercise was conducted by Albania, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Russia's claim of chasing British Destroyer out of Crimean waters
Russia claimed on June 23 that it fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to chase it out of Black Sea waters off the coast of Crimea.
Britain's Defense Ministry denied the HMS Defender had been fired upon, saying that Russia was carrying out a previously announced "gunnery exercise" in the area. Britain said it was practising freedom of navigation in Ukrainian and international waters.
In response to the incident, Moscow "warned" that it was prepared to fire on warships entering territorial waters it claims around Crimea.
Also, amid joint military drills in the Black Sea, Russia tested its air-defence systems deployed in occupied Crimea to "monitor actions of ships." Russia's Black Sea fleet said on June 29 that it had deployed around 20 aircraft and helicopters, including Su-24M bombers, as well as S-400 and Pantsir surface-to-air missile systems in the readiness tests.
Russia had occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 after sending in troops and staging a sham referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries. Moscow is also backing separatists in a war in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.