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NATO to ‘Deter and Defend’ against Russia in the Black Sea – officials

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The ways to continue building “deterrence and defense against Russian aggression,” among others in Georgia and Ukraine, will be among the major issues at the NATO Foreign Ministerial held in Washington D.C. on April 3-4, United States Permanent Representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said in her news briefing on April 1.

“We must make sure that all of the NATO countries that live in the Black Sea and around the Black Sea are also under our security umbrella,” she said, speaking of the “Black Sea initiative,” which is aimed “for the deterrence of Russia,” as well as to make it “stop the destabilization of the Ukraine.”

“Georgia is one of our primary partners that we want to work with to protect from any further incursion by Russia,” Ambassador also said.

At a news briefing on April 2, Hutchison expanded on the topic, noting that the Black Sea initiative considers air surveillance as well as more of the NATO ships going into the Black Sea “to ensure that there is a safe passage from Ukrainian vessels through the Kerch Straight, the Sea of Azov.”

She said, it is very important for all the countries surrounding the Black Sea that “we have more attention to assuring that those waters are clear and also that the countries in and around the Black Sea are safe from Russian meddling.”

Hutchison also stressed that with Russia “putting defensive weapons in Crimea,” it is “very important” that Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia “have the security in the Black Sea area both for ships but also for their land-based safety.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also referred to the Black Sea security in his pre-ministerial press conference on Monday, saying NATO has “increased its presence in the Black Sea with more naval presence, with NATO’s maritime groups taking part in exercises and also with different port visits” including in Georgia and Ukraine.

“We are in the Black Sea, we operate there, and we strongly urge all countries in the region and especially Russia, of course, to respect the international law,” he said.

As a part of expanded NATO vessel rotation, four ships, assigned to the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2), arrived on a four-day port call in Poti on Georgia’s Black Sea coast on Monday.

Washington D.C. is hosting the 70th anniversary of NATO with world leaders gathering at the Foreign Ministerial on April 3-4. Georgian FM Davit Zalkaliani will also join the celebrations on the sidelines of the ministerial, addressing a session on “Enlarging Security in the Neighborhood: The Legacy and Future of NATO Partnerships” as well as holding bilateral meetings with NATO and U.S. officials.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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