Russian navy to join first drill with NATO members in 10 years

Russian navy to join first drill with NATO members in 10 years

Russia’s navy has said it will join a military exercise next year that will become its first joint drill with NATO countries in 10 years.

In a statement on Thursday, Russia’s Southern Military District said the country’s navy would participate in the Aman-2021 exercise that is due to take place in February off the coast of Pakistan.

A total of 30 countries will take part in the drills, with 10 engaging their fleets and the rest sending observers.

The participating countries include Russia, Pakistan, China and Japan, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing a statement from the Black Sea fleet that will be representing Russia at the exercise.

The drills will also involve the NATO member fleets of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Turkey, the report added.

The last time Russia’s navy participated in drills with NATO warships was in 2011 during the Bold Monarch exercise off the coast of Spain, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

However, the Russian navy has in the decade since held joint exercises with Turkey, with which Moscow has enjoyed a closer relationship than other NATO countries.

A NATO official said the 30-member military bloc had no plans currently to take part in exercises with Russia, but the participation of individual nations was up to them to decide.

“Our practical cooperation remains suspended as a consequence of Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014,” the NATO official said.

Ties between Russia and the West are languishing at post-Cold War lows, strained by everything from the annexation of Crimea to allegations of hacking US elections and Syria.

In September, chief of the Russian army’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov accused NATO of increasing its military presence at the Russian border.

In a report published earlier this month, NATO said Russia will likely remain its main threat in the coming decade.