The Ukraine-NATO joint military exercises Sea Breeze 2015 started in southern Ukraine, Russian media reported on Monday.
“The aim of the exercises is to practice a multinational security operation in a crisis region,” the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The land, naval and air drills, to run until September 12, are also designed to improve interoperability between the Ukrainian Naval Forces and the Naval Forces of NATO member and partner countries, the statement said.
The exercises, held under NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in Ukraine’s Odessa and Nikolayev regions, involve around 2,500 military personnel also from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Britain, Romania, Sweden, Turkey and Moldavia, including about 1,000 troops from Ukraine.
US participation in Sea Breeze-2015 includes approximately 400 sailors, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook and a P-3C Orion maritime patrol plane.
A total of 14 ships, eight planes and helicopters and about 90 vehicles are expected to participate in the drills.
Vice Admiral James Foggo, the commander of the US 6th Fleet, described the exercise as “an important opportunity to work with our partners and conduct meaningful training in the land, air, and maritime domains.”
“I am confident that this exercise will also lead to valuable personal exchanges between our sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines, leading to stronger bonds and unity in this region,” he said.
The Sea Breeze exercises have been conducted annually in Ukraine since 1997.