07:53 GMT23 April 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia's Black Sea Fleet refuted on Wednesday Ukraine's claim that Russia's Smetlivy patrol destroyer illegally entered a closed area where international drills Sea Breeze-2019 were conducted.

    "The Ukrainian Navy's claim that the Black Sea Fleet's Smetlivy patrol vessel has allegedly entered a closed zone where Sea Breeze-2019 drills are held is not true", the Black Sea Fleet said in a statement.

    The Black Sea Fleet added that Smetlivy was controlling NATO ships' activities in order to be able to promptly respond if situations jeopardizing civilian navigation emerged.

    "Smetlivy acts in strict compliance with the international law", the Black Sea Fleet added.

    The press service of the Ukrainian Navy said earlier in the day that the Russian vessel had illegally crossed into a Black Sea area that was closed for navigation due to the holding of the ongoing NATO's naval exercise.

    The Sea Breeze exercise, which began on 1 July, are conducted by NATO and several allies, including Ukraine and Georgia, in the northwestern region of the Black Sea. They will end on 12 July.

    The Russian Navy has begun its own scheduled exercises in the Black Sea.


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