Russian Warship Enters Ukrainian Gunfire Exercise Area, Creating ‘Dangerous Situation’

By Patrick Tucker

July 11, 2019

A Russian destroyer entered an area of the Black Sea reserved for naval gunfire practice by U.S., Ukrainian, and other countries’ warships on Wednesday, Ukraine said. 

The Ukrainian Navy said this created “a dangerous situation,” during the annual U.S.- and Ukranian-led Sea Breeze exercise. A U.S. Navy official confirmed only that the Russian ship was present and "had no impact to the exercise yesterday."

In a July 10 post on their Facebook page, the Ukrainian Navy reported that the Russian Kashin-class guided-missile destroyer Smetlivy spent about eight hours in an area designated for gunfire exercises during the annual U.S.- and Ukranian-led Sea Breeze exercise.

This “trigger[ed] a dangerous situation,” an “emergency,” the post said. “The Russian Federation once again showed its true identity and ignored the rules of international maritime law.” 

The post said that the crew of the Ukranian frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy attempted to make contact with the Smetlivy to ask about the Russian ship’s maneuvers, in accordance with international law. But the Ukranians report that the Russian sailors pretended that they were experiencing communication problems. 

The 19th annual edition of the Sea Breeze exercise brings together 33 ships, 26 aircraft, and more than 3,000 troops from 19 militaries. 

The presence of the Russian ship had no impact to the exercise yesterday and all evolutions were conducted as scheduled,” said Lt. Bobby Dixon, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet. “During exercises, to include Sea Breeze, we expect all vessels to operate safely and in accordance with international maritime law and norms like the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It can be ill-advised to enter an area given the safety hazard identified in a Notice to Mariners.”

By Patrick Tucker // Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, The Sun, MIT Technology Review, Wilson Quarterly, The American Legion Magazine, BBC News Magazine, Utne Reader, and elsewhere.

July 11, 2019