NATO

Sea Shield: Romania Hosts Large Scale NATO Exercise In Black Sea

The maritime exercise comes amid increased tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

More than 20 international ships have been taking part in what has been described as the largest NATO exercise in the Black Sea.

Exercise Sea Shield 2019 involves vessels from Bulgaria, Canada, Greece, the Netherlands and Turkey.

The large-scale maritime exercise comes amid increased tensions in the region, following Russia's capture of three Ukrainian naval ships in November.

Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea, which it claimed were violating its territorial waters, and 25 Ukrainian sailors remain in Russian captivity.

The large-scale maritime exercise comes amid increased tensions in the region (Picture: NATO).

Romanian Special Forces are among those taking part in Sea Shield on-board the ROS Regele Ferdinand.

All personnel on the frigate are exercising joint warfare techniques with NATO partner nations.

The Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is one of the four standing naval forces of NATO.

They are high-readiness forces comprised of ships from maritime allies ready for everything NATO asks - that could be a wide variety of tasks, ranging from humanitarian assistance to maritime warfare.

The Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is one of the four standing naval forces of NATO (Picture: NATO).

Commodore Boudewijn Boots, Commander Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, said: "I would say to our allies in the Black Sea region that we are NATO and we are exercising wherever we need to be.

"We are adhering to every international regulation, we respect the international law.

"We are transparent and not seeking any conflict but we do exercise where we deem necessary."

Exercise Sea Shield 2019 involves vessels from Bulgaria, Canada, Greece, the Netherlands and Turkey (Picture: NATO).

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis paid a visit to the Maritime Group to mark the host nation’s participation in the high-level exercise.

Exercise Sea Shield is just one element of the current NATO strategy to bolster its presence in Eastern Europe, and lend support to key allies in the area.