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    War ships of the NATO Standing Maritime Group-2 take part in a military drill on the Black Sea, 60km from Constanta city March 16, 2015

    Stoltenberg Says NATO's Increased Black Sea Presence Not 'Provoking Conflict'

    © AFP 2019 / DANIEL MIHAILESCU
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    NATO’s increased presence in the Black Sea will be in line with the alliance’s international obligations and is not aimed at provoking any conflict, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – On Thursday, NATO defense ministers decided to increase its presence in the Black Sea region. According to Stoltenberg, the alliance’s naval groups will increase military exercises and will gather information in the region among other tasks.

    "Everything we do will be in line with international commitments and obligations including also in accordance with the Montreux convention [Regarding the Regime of the Straits] … We will have increased presence in the Black Sea but it will be measured, it will be defensive and it will in no way aim at provoking any conflict or escalating tensions," Stoltenberg told at a press conference.

    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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    NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, Black Sea, Russia
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