On June 28, the grand opening of the Sea Breeze 2021 international maneuvers took place in Odesa. Divided into a coastal, naval and aviation component under the general leadership of the Naval Command, the exercises will be held from June 28 to July 10 in southern Ukraine.
The operation is carried out in a wide area from the Danube river bed and the Dniester estuary to the Ochakiv—Pervomaisky island—Kinburn Spit line. The Sea Breeze legend this year is the stabilization mission of the multinational force group in the crisis-ridden region. The range of tasks is wide enough:
- opposing to illegal armed groups;
- anti-mine and anti-submarine missions in the river—sea brown water zone;
- the lodgment of airborne assault forces at night;
- raiding operations of units of the USA, Georgia, and Ukraine.
In addition to the fight for the survivability of ships, anti-aircraft and anti-boat defense, the culmination of Sea Breeze 2021 will be the amphibious landing.
In addition to permanent partners like the United States, Britain, and Canada, the forces and means of Japan, Australia, Brazil, Bangladesh, and the United Arab Emirates have been involved for the first time. As well as all regional countries of the Black Sea region, except for Russia. In total, 30 participating states—a record number!
Three dozen ships, three dozen planes and helicopters, almost 5,000 sailors, marines, border guards, and Special Operations Forces (SOF). In addition, 18 special-purpose teams, combat swimmers, and air controllers are involved.
British aircraft Eurofighter Typhoon deployed in Romania as part of the Alliance's air police to support its eastern flank will also be operational during the exercise. The Island boats of the Georgian Coast Guard, a Romanian corvette and an anti-submarine helicopter, a British type 45 HMS Defender, a Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen, and an American type Arleigh Burke USS Ross were deployed to the area of maneuvers.
What exactly do the multinational forces exercise? Ships with air defenses and NATO guided weapons assisted by local units enter the conflict-affected Black Sea region. The simulated enemy is illegal armed groups, those very "green men", but not only them, judging by the fact that there is a search for submarines, and the Ukrainian Su-27 are holding a training air battle.
A company of Ukrainian marines and a company of Georgian ground forces operate at the Oleshky Sands training ground, simulating raiding operations in the gray zone in this largest semi-desert wooded area in Eastern Europe: strikes against enemy rear lines, destruction of infrastructure, encounter battle, and an ambush. The night lodgment of the landing force is the SOF and air controllers, the "eyes" for the guided weapons of destroyers and frigates. The reconnaissance force is also coordinated by the US Air Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft.
In addition, medical evacuation, the search for downed pilots from Mi-8 helicopters and the drop of aviation rescuers are being exercised. And also within the framework of the aviation component from the Kulbakino airfield, Su-25 "rooks" and Bayraktar combat UAVs deliver assault strikes. For the time being, UAVs flew to assist within the framework of missions on request in the area of Oleshky Sands. But the exercises have just begun—coordination is now being trained. It is quite possible that we will also see practical bombing at sea targets on the Kinburn Spit.
Though Washington (represented by US exercise director Steve Bauman) claims that this year's scenario does not include confrontation with any particular country, Moscow has already reacted by deploying the Kolpino submarine in the Black Sea.
Though all the carriers of the Kalibr cruise missiles at the Russian Black Sea Fleet in one salvo are less than the missiles in the nests of one Ross and Defender, but Russia traditionally tries to react sharply to the Alliance exercises in the region. And Sea Breeze 2021 is no exception.
When all the countries in the region are either under the NATO’s umbrella, or are striving there as a result of the Kremlin's actions towards its neighbors, there is nothing left to do but demonstratively rattle the saber.