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Russian vessels set to hold drills near UK warships in Black Sea

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Russian warship fires during celebrations for the Navy Day in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, July 26, 2015. (Photo by Reuters)

Russian Navy vessels are to carry out missile drills not far from a British carrier group in the Black Sea, days after a hostile engagement between the Russian forces and Britain’s Royal Navy in the strategic waters.

According to a Russian Navy notice on Saturday, the maneuvers will be held just 30 kilometers away from the Royal Navy’s fleet flagship.

The Royal Navy carrier group, led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth, is currently stationed south of Cyprus, and is expected to remain there until the end of June.

Britain began deploying naval assets to the Black Sea in the spring with a view on applying pressure on Russia by way of signaling solidarity with Ukraine.

The Saturday drills follow an incident in the territorial waters on Wednesday, when the British destroyer HMS Defender ventured three kilometers into the Russian territory.

The move prompted a Russian border guard patrol ship to fire warning shots and a fighter jet to drop bombs in front of the destroyer.

Following the warning maneuvers, the British destroyer left the waters, but Russia called on London to investigate the actions of the destroyer’s crew.

Russia has repeatedly warned the United Kingdom and the United States against sending their warships near the country’s territorial waters in the strategic waters.

Earlier in the day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused Washington and London of seeking to incite conflict in the Black Se.

He said the two Western powers were fueling tensions in the region by failing to accept Crimea as a part of Russia.

Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17, 2014, and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum.

The West, however, claims Russia has annexed the region. Moscow rejects the allegation.

In the meantime, the US and its NATO allies are conducting wargames in the Black Sea.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, about 4,000 NATO military personnel, as well as 40 navy ships, boats, and auxiliary vessels, 30 aerial units, and over 100 vehicles and armored units, will be deployed in the Black Sea.

The main participants of the exercise would be Ukraine, the United States, Canada, Britain, and Turkey. 

Russia accuses the United States and NATO of “provocative activities” in the waters and the airspace of the Black Sea.

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