Referring to the presence of U.S. and NATO ships in the Black Sea to assess Russia’s military capabilities, the Russian defense minister said the country also plans to hold several exercises.
“The American and NATO missile ships entering the Black Sea are trying to test the strength of the Russian fleet on the Black Sea coast and how Russia protects its southern borders,” Russian Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu said on Sunday, November 7.
“When a warship belonging to a non-regional power enters the Black Sea and is understood to be carrying long-range precision weapons, we naturally keep a close eye on it knowing that any provocation is possible at any time, as evidenced by the case of a British destroyer, and of course we must avoid such cases,” the Russian Defense Minister stressed.
“Specifically, this is a constant effort to test ourselves to measure our readiness and how effectively we have prepared on the shores of the Black Sea and generally in the south of our country,” continued Shoigu.
“From what I understand, they are planning, subsequently, exercises with our neighbors, including the Georgian and Ukrainian navies, but we are also holding exercises and will continue to do so,” said the Russian defense chief.
Sergei Shoigu’s warnings come as two U.S. warships are currently in the Black Sea monitoring the forces and capabilities of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
The U.S. 6th Fleet announced earlier that U.S. warships had deployed to the Black Sea for joint operations with NATO allies and partners in the region.
The Russian defense minister recently said that NATO spy plane and tactical flights near the country’s borders have increased by almost a third compared to last year.
He noted, “The intensity and scope of NATO military exercises continues to increase along our borders. More than 30 exercises are organized each year based on the scenario of an armed confrontation with Russia near its western borders. Non-NATO countries such as Georgia, Ukraine, Sweden and Finland are increasingly participating in the exercises.
The U.S. and other NATO countries regularly fly their fighter jets and drones to patrol near Russia’s borders, especially its western borders. The Russian Air Force, in turn, sends its fighters on missions to repel hostile aircraft that get too close to the Russian border.
The Kremlin has repeatedly condemned NATO’s actions, saying that such actions would increase the risk of unintended confrontation.