WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The NATO alliance will continue its operations in the Black Sea even though tensions with Russia may be heightened as a result of its activities, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis told Sputnik.
Since Crimea reunified with the Russian Federation last year, both NATO and Russia have increased their military presence in the Black Sea.
“No one wants to stumble backward into a new Cold War,” Admiral Stavridis noted when asked about the growing military presence in the Black Sea. “Hopefully diplomacy will prevail.”
In a testimony to the US Congress in late February, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Philip Breedlove referred to the Alliance’s exercises currently underway, saying that the Alliance is maintaining “an almost constant presence in Black Sea.”
Breedlove further raised concerns about Russian deployments of anti-ship and anti-aircraft systems from the military base in Crimea.
Increased military presence close to a regional conflict zone is a very dangerous maneuver that could lead to different unpleasant consequences, according to the officials.
NATO has been increasing its military presence close to the Russian border since Crimea reunified with Russia in March 2014. In January, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced plans to boost the bloc's military presence in Eastern Europe, also increasing the number of warships in the Black Sea.