13:06 GMT21 June 2021
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    A French La Fayette class frigate has crossed the Bosphorus Strait towards the Black Sea, French Ambassador to Bulgaria Eric Lebedel said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The frigate will make a stopover in Bulgaria's port city of Varna.

    " … and soon in stopover in Varna! Welcome to Bulgaria!" Lebedel wrote on Twitter on Thursday, commenting on reports of the La Fayette F 710 frigate crossing the Bosphorus Strait.

    ​The La Fayette class, capable of carrying air-defence missiles and designed to accommodate Panther, as well as heavy range helicopters, includes five types of ships, the first of which, F 710, was commissioned in 1996.

    Moscow has repeatedly criticized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for stirring up regional tensions by deploying its military close to Russian borders.

    Recently, the Sea Shield 2017 maritime drills with the participation of seven NATO member states and Ukraine were held in the Black Sea. The drills took place on the territory of 80,000 square kilometers (49,700 square miles). Approximately 2,800 personnel from Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, the United States, Canada, Spain and Ukraine, 16 warships and 10 warplanes will participate in the 10-day exercises.

    NATO has been increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea since the outbreak of the conflict in southeastern Ukraine in April 2014, in response to what it considers to be Russia's aggressive foreign policy. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed the Ukraine-related accusations leveled at it, warning that increased NATO activities near the country's borders could undermine regional and global stability.


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    La Fayette frigate, NATO, Black Sea, Varna, Bulgaria, France
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