MOSCOW, May 28 (RIA Novosti) – Naval wings of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet have resumed training flights over neutral waters of the sea to monitor the activity of NATO warships, a source in the Russian navy's headquarters said Wednesday.
“During the flights, combat training is carried out to provide surface image coverage in the neutral waters of the Black Sea,” the source said. These flights, performed mainly by Su-24 attack aircraft, allow monitoring of NATO warship maneuvers, which have increased in activity in recent months.
NATO member countries deployed three ships to the Black Sea earlier this month: the French La Fayette-class frigate Surcouf, the French Dupuy de Lôme intelligence ship, and the US Ticonderoga-class Aegis guided-missile cruiser Vella Gulf.
“We talk of an unmotivated presence in the Black Sea of NATO ships of non-Black Sea states – the United States and France,” he said.
The operations are in compliance with international regulations that govern flights over the neutral waters, the source added.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday the alliance would intensify its naval presence in the Baltic and Black Seas amid the crisis in Ukraine.
On Sunday, Ukraine held a snap presidential election scheduled by the country’s parliament following the February overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych.
The vote came amid a large-scale military operation launched by the new authorities in Kiev to crack down on protesters refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the government.
According to the Central Election Commission, billionaire Petro Poroshenko leads in the race, taking over 50 percent of the vote with 99 percent of ballots counted.