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Joint US-Ukraine Sea Breeze 2021 exercises to begin

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Joint US-Ukraine Sea Breeze 2021 exercises to begin

Sea Breeze
Photo: UNIAN

The annual US-Ukrainian hosted Sea Breeze military exercise in the Black Sea will commence today.

This year’s exercise features 32 nations—its largest ever participation—and takes place amid heightened Russo-NATO and Russo-Ukrainian tensions. In April, Moscow began an ominous military buildup along Russia’s eastern border with Ukraine, prompting fears of escalation similar to the 2014 Crimean crisis. NATO allies are likely to leverage this year’s iteration of Sea Breeze to demonstrate Western solidarity with Ukraine.

Expect the Kremlin to respond firmly to Sea Breeze. In an unprecedented move, Russian warships and fighter aircraft recently fired warning shots along the path of a British destroyer in the region, claiming it violated Russia’s exclusive economic zone.

While an escalation is unlikely during the multilateral exercise, Moscow may opt to hold its own regional naval maneuvers and engage in provocations along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine. Moscow left in place considerable forces from its April buildup along Ukraine’s eastern border, which could signal Russia’s willingness to pounce if relations with Ukraine and the West deteriorate further. Chances of a détente between Russia and NATO are low due to irreconcilable positions on Crimea and continued flareups in the Donbass region.

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