Bulgaria’s defence ministry said the 10-day war games, dubbed BREEZE 2014, were designed to boost NATO solidarity and regional readiness, though it added they had been scheduled before Russia annexed Ukraine’s Black Sea region of Crimea in March.

Vessels from Bulgaria and its Black Sea neighbors Romania and Turkey and also from Greece, Italy, Britain and the United States were due to take part in the exercises.

The drills will involve more than 1,000 Bulgarian marines, 15 ships and cutters, as well as two helicopters and two planes, the ministry said. A US guided missile cruiser and US aircraft are also involved in the exercises. […]