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Y.Yekhanurov: Sea Breeze to Be Conducted Despite Any Protests

09.07.2008 16:32

The Sea Breeze 2008 military exercise will be held in Ukraine despite any protests, Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuri Yekhanurov said to journalists prior to a government meeting on Wednesday.

Yekhanurov said: “Sea Breeze will be conducted despite any protests”.

The Sea Breeze 2008 exercise is to start in Odessa on July 14 and last till July 26. The area of the exercise is to cover training ranges in the Odessa Region as well as Crimea and adjacent waters of the Black Sea.

Earlier certain Ukrainian politicians claimed with reference to the Ministry of Defense that the Ministry made a decision to abstain from conducting the exercise in Crimea due to concerns that opponents of Ukrainian membership in NATO will meet the foreign militaries with protest rallies.

In May-June 2006, residents of Crimea and other regions of Southern Ukraine opposing Ukrainian membership in NATO blocked weapons and equipment of US militaries expected to be used in Sea Breeze 2006 in the port of Feodosia and prevented their delivery to training ranges. The protest rallies lasted more than 20 days, so the exercise failed.

In 2007, the Sea Breeze exercise was held in the Odessa and Nikolayev Regions.

In May-June 2008, a number of Ukrainian politicians including Nataliya Vitrenko, Leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, Leonid Grach, Leader of Crimea Communists, and Sergey Shuvaynikov, Leader of Crimea public movement Russian Front, claimed that they are going to arrange protest actions and render Sea Breeze 2008 abortive.

In April, the Supreme Rada of Ukraine approved a decision to let about one thousand troops of the USA and other nations, 15 foreign warships, 2 submarines, four aircraft and four helicopters enter the territory of the county to take part in Sea Breeze 2008.

In January-May 2008, five protest rallies against membership in NATO were held in Simferopol. So-called “people’s referendums” conducted in Crimea, Sevastopol, Nikolayev Region and Kiev showed that 84-99 per cent of residents in these areas oppose the policy of the Ukrainian authorities towards NATO.

This year 15 nations will take part in Sea Breeze 2008, viz. Azerbaijan, Belgium, Armenia, Great Britain, Georgia, Greece, Denmark, Canada, Latvia, Macedonia, Germany, the USA, Turkey, France and Ukraine. RIA Novosti (РИА "Новости").