Correspondent in Moscow
Warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet They closely monitor the Spanish Navy’s Maritime Action ship ‘Rayo’ to prevent, as the British destroyer ‘HMS Defender’ did last month, from violating the territorial waters of Russia. The Spanish ship, which sailed the past June 25th from the port of Cartagena, entered the Black Sea today to join the NATO naval operation ‘Sea Breeze’.
The information on the tracking of the movements of the ‘Rayo’ came from the National Center for Defense Control of Russia. «The forces and means of the Black Sea Fleet have begun to monitor the actions of the patrol vessel ‘Rayo’ of the Spanish Navy , which entered the Black Sea on July 7, 2021, to participate in the multinational exercises ‘Sea Breeze-2021’ of NATO countries and partners ”, it is stated in the military note distributed by the Russian agencies.
But the Spanish Minister of Defense, Margaret Robles, said today that “I am not aware that this surveillance is taking place, I am not aware». He said this in statements to the media after closing the Security and Defense Conference for the Defense Commissions of Congress and the Senate.
On June 28, the day the Allied maneuvers began, the same Russian Defense Center already announced that would intensify surveillance of all the ships of the Alliance and Ukraine participating in the ‘Sea Breeze’ maneuvers, an operation that involves more than thirty ships, a similar number of aircraft, some 5,000 soldiers from more than 32 countries, 17 of them belonging to NATO, and must end next Saturday the 10th.
Last Thursday, the start of the monitoring of the Italian fragata ‘Virginio Fasan’. Previously, on June 26, it was the American destroyer ‘USS Ross’ the one who came to the area. It docked in the port of Odessa and was visited by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The North American destroyer is equipped with ‘Tomahawk’ cruise missiles.
For their part, spokesmen for the Ukrainian Marine Corps Command announced on Tuesday the start of the “active phase of the coastal component” of the maneuvers. The answer, according to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, is being the ground exercises that the Russian Navy is carrying out in Crimea using live artillery fire from multiple launch rocket systems ‘Grad’, self-propelled 2S1 ‘Gvozdika’ units, ‘Sani’ mortars and other weapons.
On Friday, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, General Igor Konashenkov, warned that “despite the fact that NATO maneuvers are naval in status and denomination, their real limits of military action go far beyond the Ukrainian maritime sector in the Black Sea”, suggesting that they are also aimed at the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014.
Last week, as part of new exercises, Russian Navy ships fired shots in a limited area of its territorial waters, adjacent to the area of action of the Alliance ships. On the other hand, last day June 23Moscow claimed that its ships opened warning fire on the British destroyer ‘HMS Defender’ off the coast of Crimea for “violating” Russian territorial waters. London denied it, assured that it was a “peaceful” voyage in Ukrainian waters and the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, admitted that the idea of sending his destroyer there was his, since his country does not recognize that Crimea is Russian.
The United Kingdom ambassador in Moscow had to go to explain to the Russian Foreign Ministry, where they described the incident as “provocation” and warned that next time “the ship will be destroyed”, a threat also reiterated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his traditional “direct line” with the spectators.
After what happened with the ‘HMS Defender’, just the next day, June 24 in front of the Kerch Strait, also in Crimea, Russian Su-24 and Su-30 s fighter jetsthey flew low to the Dutch frigate ‘Evertsen’, which was also participating in the maneuvers and which had to turn around. The Netherlands Foreign Ministry denounced that ‘the Russian fighters created a dangerous situation to intimidate the ship Evertsen in the Black Sea ‘, which never entered Russian waters. The ‘HMS Defender’ and the frigate ‘Evertsen’ were in the Black Sea of the June 14th to July 2.