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Russian naval exercises in Black Sea, Sea of Azov continue to restrict freedom of navigation

The Admiral Grigorovich (Project 11356M)-class frigate Admiral Essen conducts naval exercises in the Black Sea. (Russian Ministry of Defence)

The Russian Navy has moved three large landing ships, five warships, and several vessels of other classes, including one missile boat, to the Sea of Azov under the pretext of participating in exercises, Ukraine's Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov stated during a press briefing on 21 February.

In video footage posted by Ukrainian media outlet MyKerch on its VKontakte social media account on 21 February, more than 10 Russian Navy warships could be seen headed towards the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. This included the Ropucha (Project 775)-class landing ships Tsesar Kunikov and Novocherkassk , the Alligator (Project 1171)-class landing ship Saratov , the Bykov (Project 22160)-class corvette Pavel Derzhavin , the Tarantul (Project 12411)-class corvette Neberezhnye Chelny , and the Grisha (Project 1124)-class corvette Eisk .

The latest ship movements follow a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by Russia on 20 February for the Sea of Azov, closing its airspace from 21 to 26 February for the exercises. MyKerch posted images on 21 February showing that the strait continues to see commercial vessels transiting towards the Sea of Azov, however.

Meanwhile, Russian Navy large-scale exercises in other areas continue. In the Black Sea, the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate Admiral Essen has conducted an air-defence exercise, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on 22 February. Earlier, the Slava-class cruiser Moskva performed artillery firing at combat training ranges in the Black Sea, the MoD reported on 18 February.

Russian media agency TASS

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