The United States is co-hosting drills in the Black Sea with what is left of Ukraine’s devastated navy, which lost about two thirds of its sailors and ships after Russia seized Crimea last year.
The maritime operation, dubbed Sea Breeze, began Tuesday and is an annual exercise that this year includes contingents from 11 countries practicing air defense, search-and-rescue procedures and a variety of other tactical maneuvers aimed at boosting regional security.
Ukraine’s naval force was eviscerated when Russia seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March 2014. Moscow snatched much of the fleet moored in strategic ports, and convinced thousands of sailors to jump ship.
US Vice Admiral James Foggo III, who helped launch the international training mission, said on Wednesday that the Ukrainian navy dropped from about 17,000 to 5,000 sailors.