"In 2016, Black Sea Fleet’s warships and support vessels almost doubled the time they spent on missions at sea compared with 2015, covering a total of almost 340,000 nautical miles. Their time at sea rose by 45 percent," Vitko told the Russian Defense Ministry’s newspaper, Krasnaya Zvezda.
Black Sea Fleet’s Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate, armed with Kalibr cruise missiles, joined the Russian aircraft carrier group deployed off the Syrian coast last year. Sources told Sputnik in April it would stay in the Mediterranean until this summer.
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 Ukrainian-related accusations leveled at it, warning that increased NATO activities near the country's borders could undermine regional and global stability.