Some 1,600 Romanian sailors have started five days of war games in the Black Sea amid heightened tensions in neighboring Ukraine.
Romania’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday that the war games code-named “Vector 2014”, will run through Friday in the Black Sea.
It said the drills are part of long-planned and regular naval exercises.
The exercises coincide with the escalation of tensions in Ukraine whose port city Odessa has plunged into violence.
Romania, a close ally of the US and a NATO member state, is only 300 kilometers (190 miles) away from Odessa.
Last month, the US Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook left the Black Sea after two weeks of joint war games, but USS Taylor, a frigate, is still in the region.
On May 2, nearly 70 people were killed and hundreds of others injured in Odessa after the Ukrainian forces launched a military operation against pro-Russia protesters, who are in control of several eastern cities.
Among those killed there were nearly 40 people, who died in Odessa after a trade union building, where pro-Russia activists had taken shelter, was set ablaze.
Moscow slammed Kiev over the deadly incident in Odessa, saying it was “another manifestation of the criminal irresponsibility of the Kiev authorities.”
Tensions in Ukraine heightened after Crimea declared independence from Kiev and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum in March.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced the dismissal of Odessa’s police chief Pyotr Lutsyuk on Sunday after the country’s interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, declared two days of national mourning over the deadly unrest in the city.
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