MOSCOW – The Russian military will closely monitor upcoming naval drills co-hosted by Ukraine and the United States and react if necessary to protect its own national security, the Russian defence ministry said on Wednesday.
The annual Sea Breeze drills, which are focused on the Black Sea area, will involve personnel from a number of NATO countries and are set to take place from June 28 to July 10, the ministry said in a statement.
Moscow said the drills went well beyond what it called Ukraine’s own Black Sea zone.
“The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation will closely monitor the preparations and the Ukrainian-American ‘Sea Breeze’ exercises themselves…and if necessary respond appropriately to the situation in the interests of ensuring Russia’s military security,” the ministry said.
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine remain acutely strained after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 and backed a pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine that triggered a conflict that has killed over 14,000 people.