WASHINGTON DC – The US is working on a package of measures aimed at boosting the alliance’s presence in the Black Sea, US ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said on Tuesday.
According to the preliminary data, the package will be presented to the other NATO member countries during the next NATO meeting in Washington and provides for increased vigilance and the sending of more alliance vessels to the Black Sea.
“We have been working on a package to present to the foreign ministers and it is a package with surveillance, with air surveillance, as well as more of the NATO country ships going into the Black Sea to assure that there is safe passage for Ukrainian vessels through the Kerch Strait, the Sea of Azov,” Hutchison said on Tuesday. “It is very important for Bulgaria as well as the other countries surrounding the Black Sea that we have more attention to assuring that those waters are cleared and also that the countries in and around the Black Sea are safe from Russian meddling.”
On 25 November, three Ukrainian navy ships violated Russia’s borders. They carried out dangerous maneuvers for several hours without meeting the demands of the Russian authorities. As a result, all ships were detained and the seamen arrested.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described the incident in the Kerch Strait as provocation encouraged by Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko. On the occasion, the Russian leader indicated that everything was arranged to introduce martial law in Ukraine and thus postpone the presidential elections.
Meanwhile, standing naval vessels from the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, SNMG2 (a multinational NATO naval group), arrived at the port of Poti, Georgia, the border police press service of the Ministry of Interior Georgia.
During the visit the commander of the 2nd NATO naval group, Boudewijn Boots, will meet with the head of the Georgia Coast Guard. Work meetings, sports and cultural events will also be held.