In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had rejected a suggestion from the defence ministry to perform emergency Black Sea military manoeuvres in response to NATO action because he did not want to increase tensions in the region.
With increased Western spy plane activity, more strategic bomber flights, and the deployment of two US warships in the Black Sea region, Russia has warned about what it calls a dangerous rise in military action by the US and its allies.
Some of the activity has been taking place in the vicinity of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 and which Kyiv wants back.
Tensions are also high over what U.S. officials have called a worrying Russian military build-up near Ukraine and a migrant standoff between Belarus, a close ally of Russia, and the European Union. read more
In a state TV interview published on the Kremlin website due to be aired late on Sunday, Putin said he did not want to fuel tensions in the Black Sea area.
“I should say that our Defence Ministry had a proposal to hold our own snap drills in those waters. But I believe that would be pointless and that there is no need to further add to tensions there,” Putin said.
“So the defence ministry is limiting itself to escorting (NATO) jets and ships,” Putin told the Rossiya-1 channel.
The United States has said its warships are in the Black Sea to enhance collaboration with NATO allies in the region.
“The United States and their NATO allies are really holding unplanned, I want to highlight it, unplanned drills in Black Sea waters,” Putin said.
“…This is a serious challenge for us.”