KIEV, Ukraine: More than 30 countries will begin military exercises in the Black Sea area and southern Ukraine on Monday, even as Russia warns against holding the drills.
The exercise, entitled Sea Breeze 2021, comes amidst an increase in tensions between NATO countries and Moscow. Just last week, Moscow said it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs near a British warship off the coast of Crimea in the Black Sea. Britain, however, said the incident did not occur.
The Crimea peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014, though it remains recognized as Ukrainian territory by most countries.
Last week, the Russian embassy in Washington called for the Black Sea military drills to be cancelled, saying it would act in response to threats to its security.
Some 5,000 members of the military from NATO countries and other allies will participate in the two week exercise. Also, 30 ships and 40 aircraft, along with the U.S. missile destroyer USS Ross and the U.S. Marine Corps, will take part.
NATO has said that the purpose of the exercise is for participating countries to gain experience in joint actions during multinational peacekeeping and security operations.