SPHERES OF INFLUENCE: Russia is TRACKING NATO Black Sea presence

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Several NATO ships entered the port of Odessa, the Ukrainian Navy said. Military expert Viktor Litovkin explains that Kiev needs joint maneuvers with the alliance.

According to the Ukrainian navy on its Facebook page, several ships from the NATO permanent naval group entered the port of Odessa. In total, there are six ships: the Dutch frigate De Ruyter, the Turkish Fatih, the Romanian Regele Ferdinand, the German auxiliary ship Rhein, the anti-mining vessel Anamur of the Turkish Navy and the Romanian Lupu Dinescu.

These vessels, according to the statement, are expected to make maneuvers with the Ukrainian naval forces. However, the Ukrainian-American Sea Breeze 2018 maneuvers ended a short time ago (they began on July 9 and ended last week). In them participated ships from Bulgaria, USA, Ukraine and Turkey – in total more than 30 vessels.

In the interview, military specialist Viktor Litovkin commented on the situation.

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“Ukraine has a couple of ships with which it participated in the Sea Breeze 2018 exercises. But the lead role was undoubtedly played by ships from other NATO countries […] We carefully monitor what NATO ships are doing in the Black Sea and we have all the capabilities to stop any threat. Of course the presence of NATO ships that do not belong to countries bordering the Black Sea poses a certain threat to Russia,” Litovkin said.

According to him, joint maneuvers with NATO countries is a part of Ukraine’s policy to become a member of the alliance.

“Ukraine has chosen the course of NATO membership, it even tries to introduce that point in the Constitution, but we will see what will result of this – NATO does not accept countries that have territorial problems with their neighbors – therefore, its adherence to the alliance is very problematic, even in the future,” concluded Litovkin.

In 2016, Ukraine declared NATO membership one of the key objectives of its foreign policy in its anti-Russia push.

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