- Russian aircraft have been practicing conducting “bomb attacks” on ships in the Black Sea.
- The training comes as the US and Ukraine lead a large multinational exercise in the area.
- It also follows a pair of incidents involving UK and Dutch warships and the Russian military.
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Russian military aircraft have been conducting combat exercises in the skies above the Black Sea, where the US and other partner militaries are conducting a large exercise involving dozens of ships and thousands of troops.
Black Sea Fleet Su-30SM fighters and Su-24M bombers as well as Southern Military District Su-27 fighters and Su-34 fighter bombers practiced “missile and bomb attacks on vessels of a notional enemy” in the air above the Black Sea, the Russian military said in a statement Saturday, according to the state-run Tass News Agency.
The target vessels for the exercises were two landing ships, the Saratov and the Orsk.
The Russian military training took place amid Sea Breeze 2021, a multinational exercise led by the US and Ukraine that includes 5,000 troops, 32 ships, and 40 aircraft from 32 countries. The annual exercise, the largest iteration since it was first held in 1997, began last Monday despite Russian opposition and is expected to run through July 10.
The start of the large multinational exercise came just a few days after multiple incidents in the Black Sea involving British and Dutch warships and the Russian military. Once of the incidents is said to have involved simulated attacks.
The Dutch defense ministry said last week that the “Russian military jets caused a dangerous situation in the Black Sea” on June 24 by repeatedly flying low and close to the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Eversten and conducting mock attacks.
The Dutch vessel also experienced jamming that disrupted some of its onboard electronic systems, the defense ministry said.
The ship’s commanding officer said in a statement that the Eversten was sailing in international waters, arguing that there was no reason for the observed Russian actions, which he called “irresponsible and unsafe.”
Eversten is attached to a large multinational carrier strike group led by the UK Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and was conducting patrols in the Black Sea with the UK destroyer HMS Defender, which was involved in a separate incident with the Russian military the day before.
During the incident on June 23, Russian fighters flew over the British destroyer, at times executing maneuvers that British Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace stated were “neither safe nor professional.”
The Russian defense ministry said that warning shots were fired and bombs dropped in the path of the British destroyer, which Russia argues entered its territorial waters. The UK does not recognize the assertion that live fire was used to deter the British ship or Russia’s claims to the waters around Crimea.
Russia has stuck to its version of events and even threatened to drop bombs “right on target” should another foreign warship violate what it considers territorial sovereignty. Moscow has condemned the British warship’s actions as a “provocation.”