DISINFO: The real aim of the Sea Breeze exercises was to escalate tensions with Russia
  • Outlet: bgr.news-front.info (archived)*
  • Date of publication: July 28, 2021
  • Article language(s): Bulgarian
  • Reported in: Issue 254
  • Countries / regions discussed: Russia, US, UK, Belgium
NATO Military Military exercise Crimea illegal annexation Black Sea

DISINFO: The real aim of the Sea Breeze exercises was to escalate tensions with Russia


Analysts from a Belgian media outlet revealed that the real purpose behind the NATO-Ukraine Sea Breeze exercises was to send a message to Russia that it is still the strategic enemy of the Alliance. The message was supported by provocations, including the recent incident with HMS Defender which entered Russian territorial waters near Crimea. The US and NATO will pay an enormous price for their attempts to instigate conflict with Russia.


A recurrent disinformation narrative about the NATO-led exercise called Sea Breeze 2021 and its supposed aim to threaten and provoke Russia, as well as about the incident with HMS Defender on 23 June 2021.

The narratives serve to justify the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy, while simultaneously portraying Russia as defending against aggressive and dishonest activities by NATO and its members. Additionally, the article does not link to the original source material, raising doubts as to whether it has been misrepresented.

Contrary to the claims made in the article, NATO is a defensive alliance and none of its activities, including exercises, are directed against Russia or any other country for that matter. The main goal of NATO is to promote and maintain peace and to safeguard the independence, security and territorial integrity of its members. The Alliance abides by strict procedural guidelines and emphasises transparency during exercises, which are indicated months in advance and are subject to international scrutiny.

Sea Breeze is a multinational military exercise co-organised by Ukraine and the US and held in Ukraine since 1997. The exercise is not aimed at threatening or provoking Russia, but at enhancing the defensive capability of Ukraine and bringing the Ukrainian fleet closer to NATO standards. Additionally, there is no apparent connection between the Sea Breeze 2021 exercises and the incident with the patrolling HMS Defender that took place a week prior to their start. HMS Defender was on a routine transit from Odesa towards Georgia across the Black Sea while exercising the internationally recognised right of innocent passage. Contrary to the claims made by the article, the majority of the international community, including the UN, the EU, the US, and the UK, does not recognise Russia’s claim to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014 contrary to international law. From a legal perspective, Crimea still belongs to Ukraine and Russia has no right to impede other ships from passing through Crimea’s waters.

Read similar disinformation narratives claiming that the purpose of the Sea Breeze exercise is to provoke and test Russia, that the purpose of Sea Breeze 2021 is to send a military message to Russia, that the Sea Breeze war games destabilise the situation near Russia’s borders, that the Sea Breeze exercise is a provocative NATO attack on Russia in the Black sea region and that the Sea Breeze exercises are directed against Russia.


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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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