Multinational operational tactical exercises of navies of the countries of the Black Sea region Blackseafor are being held now in the Black Sea. These exercises are conducted annually since 2001. On April 2 of 2001, an intergovernmental agreement was signed in Istanbul on the establishment of the Black Sea naval group Blackseafor that included Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia. The agreement says that Blackseafor is a multinational naval group with flexible functions for use in emergency situations in the Black Sea. Since 2001, representatives of the Black Sea countries command joint naval exercises in turn. The right to command Blackseafor was recently handed over by Russia to Turkey for a year in Istanbul.
Previously, large exercises Black Sea Harmony under the Blackseafor flag were held in the Black Sea in April. The exercises, including more than 50 training exercises like joint exercises in tactical maneuvering, battles of surface ships, air defense, antiterrorist operations and various kinds of communication. Ships of the group had three unofficial visits to ports of the Black Sea countries (Constanza, Bourgas and Istanbul). Overall, Blackseafor sailed for more than 1,000 miles.
At the exercises in August, Russia is represented by big landing ship Azov, the Ukraine – by command ship Slavutich, Bulgaria – by corvette Smeli, Turkey – by frigate Salihrei and Romania – by corvette Macelario. All these ships are at the Seljuk naval base in Turkey now. Crews of the ships are doing basic training, conducting communication exercises, participating in various cultural events and visit ships of other countries participating in the exercises and are preparing for reassigning of ships of the group to under Blackseafor command. The main goal of the exercises with participation of up to 1,200 servicemen of various countries is working out interaction of naval units of the countries of the Black Sea region. It is planned to fulfill tasks of air defense, missile defense and antisubmarine defense of a group of ships, control of civil seafaring and civil air traffic, tactical maneuvering and the rescue of a drowning ship.
Interestingly, Active Endeavor exercises of NATO countries with similar tasks are conducted in the Mediterranean Sea simultaneously with Blackseafor exercises in the Black Sea. Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey are against spreading these exercises to the Black Sea. Moscow and Ankara have the same stance regarding the provision of security in the Black Sea. They have stated frequently on the highest level that security in the region should be provided without the interference of other countries. Blackseafor is quite sufficient for the fulfillment of this task. Vahit Erdem, Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO and Turkish parliament member from the ruling Party of Justice and Development announced recently in the course of a visit of a parliamentary delegation of Turkey to the US that the “American military presence in the Black Sea region may lead to tension.” Russia and Turkey are averse to the striving of Washington to broaden the borders of NATO Active Endeavor operation from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. This position of Moscow and Ankara is just and logical because for the provision of security, Black Sea countries have efficient and capable mechanisms. The current exercises of Blackseafor member states in the Black Sea confirm this once again.