(PatriotWise.com)- Officials have verified that the U.S. Navy drills deemed “vital” in preventing Russian attacks in Europe have been canceled.
A spokeswoman informed Newsweek that the planned Sea Breeze 2022 drills in the Black Sea of Europe this summer had been “canceled owing to Russia’s continuing invasion of Ukraine.”
Thirty-two vessels from NATO and allies, including the USS Ross Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, participated in the July 2021 edition hosted by the United States and Ukraine.
The U.S. Sixth Fleet’s Black Sea Region Engagement Lead, Commander Daniel Marzluff, said last year that Sea Breeze was “vital” in preventing Russian aggression and demonstrating U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine.
Until the most recent Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Sea Breeze 2022 planning was still ongoing. The Ukrainian port city of Odesa hosted a planning meeting in January; a rescheduled follow-up was planned for March.
However, Captain Tamara Lawrence of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa stated in an email on Saturday that a minor NATO operation without any American vessels was now ongoing. By taking part in the Bulgarian-led NATO exercise Breeze 2022 this year, Naval Forces Europe showed its continued commitment to its Black Sea allies and partners.
Breeze 2022 began last week, taking place close to the Bulgarian Black Sea coastal cities of Varna and Burgas, far from the hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
According to the Bulgarian News Agency, 24 ships, five aircraft, and two helicopters will participate in the drills. The first significant NATO exercise since the start of Russia’s most recent invasion of Ukraine is called Breeze 2022.
Although American soldiers and planes will be participating, no American ships will.
The 6th Fleet said last week that participants would include Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft from Task Force 67 in Sicily, Italy, and personnel from Task Force 68 in Spain.
One thousand three hundred ninety workers from 10 NATO countries—Albania, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey—will be working on Breeze.
When the circumstances permit, Lawrence continued, “We look forward to continuing our work in the Black Sea with Ukraine, a valued partner.”
As soon as Russia’s regional fleet decimated Ukraine’s little navy and started attacking commercial vessels to impose a blockade of Ukrainian ports, the Black Sea swiftly turned into a battleground. Additionally, there was fighting near the important Snake Island, which Ukrainian forces have cleared and symbolically regained.
Despite an agreement reached by the United Nations and Turkey to permit crucial Russian and Ukrainian grain shipments over the Black Sea, Russian attacks on coastal communities, notably Odesa, have persisted.