SEVASTOPOL, August 6 (RIA Novosti) - The Caesar Kunikov large amphibious landing ship from Russia's Black Sea Fleet arrived on Thursday to the Bulgarian port of Varna to take part in the 14th Blackseafor naval drills.
Formally established on Turkey's initiative in 2001, Blackseafor - which comprises Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Georgia and Russia - conducts search and rescue operations and environmental monitoring, and organizes goodwill visits among Black Sea countries. Its charter says Blackseafor can also be deployed for peacekeeping operations under a UN or OSCE mandate.
"The Blackseafor warships will practice, in particular, monitoring of commercial shipping, interception and pursuit of suspicious vessels...communications and tactical maneuvering," a spokesman for the Black Sea Fleet said.
Georgian warships have not participated in the Blackseafor exercises for a number of years, and will not take part in the upcoming drills.
Russia has said it will not take part in any joint naval exercises involving Georgian warships.
Diplomatic ties were cut between Russia and Georgia after last August's war over South Ossetia, which began when Georgian forces attacked the province in an attempt to bring it back under central control.
The Caesar Kunikov is a Ropucha-I class large landing ship. The vessel was involved in August 2008 Russian-Georgian naval skirmish.