The Bulgarian Navy and six other Nato nations have started the annual military drill Breeze 2014 in the Black Sea, marking the latest effort to support Eastern European members in the midst of the Ukraine crisis.
Aimed at enhancing Nato solidarity and readiness in the region, the drill involves fewer participants due to the unrest in Ukraine, which hosted the event in previous years.
The standing Nato mine counter-measures group two (SNMCMG2) will also be present.
Led by Captain Giovanni Piegaja from the Italian Navy, the team comprises Italian Navy vessels, including the ITS Aviere frigate and ITS Rimini, in addition to the Turkish Navy's TCG AKÇAY and the UK Navy's HMS Chiddingfold.
Other countries involved include Romania, Greece and the US.
Captain Piegaja said that during SNMCMG2's deployment in the Black Sea, the team will work with international partners to improve its operational and tactical capacity and interoperability in a multi-threat environment.
"Our deployment is a clear demonstration of our commitment to [the] alliance's strong solidarity and collective defence," Piegaja said.
Overall, the ten-day exercise involves over 1,000 Bulgarian marines and 15 ships and cutters, in addition to two helicopters and two planes, together with a US guided-missile cruiser and US aircraft.
Image: Breeze 2014 will end on 13 July 2014. Photo courtesy of HQ MARCOM Public Affairs Office.