The Russian navy will take part in an anti-piracy exercise with several NATO nations for the first time in a decade, Russia’s Southern Military District announced on Thursday.
The Aman-2021 drills, which will take place in February of next year, will involve anti-piracy exercises off the coast of Pakistan. The upcoming exercise is set to include 30 countries, with 10 engaging their fleets and the rest sending observers.
The NATO members that will be taking part in the exercise include the United States, the U.K., and Turkey. Other nations taking part will also include the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan, China, and Japan according to Russian news media.
The last time the Russian navy participated in exercises with multiple NATO members was in the 2011 Bold Monarch drills off the coast of Spain. Since then, the only NATO nation that has conducted exercises with Russia has been Turkey.
The Russians have been courting Turkey. The two countries have forged closer ties in some aspects while being at odds in places such as Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh.
A statement by NATO said that the alliance “has no exercise planned with Russia,” even if individual NATO countries are involved in the upcoming Aman-2021 exercise.
“Our practical cooperation remains suspended as a consequence of Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014,” an official said.
NATO and Russia have been frequently at odds since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. Their relationship has been further marred over accusations of interference in U.S. elections, the poisoning of former Russian intelligence agents in the U.K., increased incursions into the U.K.’s air and sea space and the American air and sea space in Alaska, and increasingly belligerent behavior against Ukraine.
Moscow has increased its submarine activity in the North Atlantic, something that NATO has not failed to notice.
Additionally, the United States has said that Russian naval activity has increased in the Bering Strait. Russia has also modernized and beefed up its submarine force. In response, the Navy is increasingly considering using the closed airfield at Adak Island in the Aleutians for anti-submarine patrols.
The U.S. has also been conducting exercises in the Black Sea to keep a closer eye on Russian activity in the region.
“The U.S. Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea to work with our NATO Allies and partners, including Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. It is in the world’s best interest to maintain a stable, prosperous Black Sea region and deter aggressive actors who seek destabilization for their own gain,” according to a Navy report.
NATO released a report earlier this month saying that both Russia and China would remain a significant threat in the coming decade.
However, back in September, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov denied that Russia’s forces are acting more aggressively. He stated that NATO was promoting a false narrative and then flipped the script accusing the West of pushing its own forces in projecting influence close to Russia’s borders.
“The growth of U.S. and NATO military activity is not taking place in the Atlantic or Caribbean, but at a distance of 20-30 kilometers from Russian borders,” he said.