Blackseafor completes first stage of naval drills
MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - An international task force of the Black Sea naval group completed on Friday the first stage of Blackseafor naval drills.
Blackseafor was formally established in 2001 on Turkey's initiative and comprises Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Georgia and Russia. It conducts search and rescue operations and environmental monitoring, and organizes goodwill visits to Black Sea countries.
This year's drills are being conducted under the command of a Bulgarian admiral.
The first stage of the drills, conducted in the southwestern area of the Black Sea, involved the monitoring of civilian aircraft, search and rescue operations, and replenishment and refueling at sea.
After completing the three-day exercises, the Blackseafor warships called at the Bulgarian port of Varna, where they will stay until Monday.
In the next stages, the Blackseafor warships will practice tactical maneuvers, the conduct of combat operations against surface ships, air defense and communications, assistance to ships in distress, and ship inspection.
Russia is represented by the Caesar Kunikov Ropucha-I class large landing ship from Russia's Black Sea Fleet. The vessel was involved in the five-day war between Russia and Georgia over the former Georgian republic of South Ossetia in August 2008, which ended diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Georgian warships have not participated in the Blackseafor exercises for a number of years. Russia has said it will not take part in any naval exercises involving Georgian warships.
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