Increased NATO activity in the Black Sea undermines regional stability and Moscow will act "accordingly", the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister told journalists on Saturday.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Council on Foreign and Defence Policy meeting, Alexander Grushko said that Russia treats increased NATO activity "unambiguously negatively",
"We, of course, will take all the necessary measures to neutralise threats connected to increased NATO activity in this region", he said. "We watch very carefully at how the Alliance's plans to increase its presence in the region unfold and we will react accordingly".
"All required ingredients for this are present. It's Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and — in the military sphere — Document on trust-building measures in the Black Sea", Grushko added.
The deputy minister expressed hope that the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group, also known as BLACKSEAFOR, will resume operations. The naval cooperation programme includes six coastal nations: Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. The group's activities effectively ended following the 2014 Ukraine crisis and Russia suspended its participation after Turkish forces shot down a Russian military airplane in 2015.
Earlier in April, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO had "increased its naval presence in the Black Sea, with NATO's maritime groups taking part in exercises and also conducting several port visits" including recent junkets in Georgia and Ukraine. He called on Russia to "respect international law" so as to "make the waters of the Black Sea more secure", according to a CaucasusWatch.de report.
Russia has repeatedly expressed its concern regarding an increased NATO military presence in Europe. The Kremlin has repeatedly underscored that Russia poses no threat to other nations, but will not ignore actions endangering its interests.