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NATO activity in Black Sea aggravates security situation, says Russian diplomat

Increasing activity of NATO in the Black Sea aggravates the region’s security situation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in response to a TASS request for comment on the statement of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who mentioned a possible expansion of the alliance’s presence in the region.

“This is not a surprise for us; they have been saying for a while that they want to strengthen their positions in the Black Sea. We are talking about the strengthening of military and maritime forces of NATO member states, first and foremost, Romania and Bulgaria, plus non-coastal states entering the Black Sea more often,” the senior diplomat noted. “It is our understanding that this activity aggravates the situation in the sphere of security.”

“The Black Sea has always been the sea of cooperation, even taking into account certain conflicts,” the diplomat said. “We need to strengthen security through increasing cooperation in the spheres of energy and transport. First and foremost, this is necessary for the Black Sea states.” “As for the military matters, we strictly adhere to the provisions of the Montreux Convention, which has been a key element of the security architecture in the region for dozens of years,” Grushko said.

“We mustn’t forget that as a whole, the Black Sea region, like the Baltic one, has accumulated rather extensive and successful experience of military cooperation,” the Russian diplomat noted. “In particular, there is a unique agreement on measures of trust in the Black Sea. It is unique because for the first time in the history of European arms control, it covers maritime military means. Secondly, BLACKSEAFOR (the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group – TASS) continues to exist, which unites all states and is aimed at fulfilling strictly peaceful tasks, namely maritime search and rescue, as well as tasks related to new security threats. Besides, this group has had counterterrorism potential,” he pointed out.

According to Grushko, all these elements may be in demand “if there is political will to really strengthen the region’s security.” “We have to move forward in this area, and not by increasing [military] presence,” he concluded.

Earlier, on the outcomes of the North Atlantic Council session in Brussels, Stoltenberg informed that NATO is considering expanding its military presence in the Black Sea, where drills with the participation of the alliance’s ships will be held in a few days. The NATO secretary general also noted that the alliance has increased its military presence in the region significantly in order to support Ukraine.

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