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Russia to conduct naval exercises in part of Bulgaria's exclusive economic zone

The Russian Federation has released a public notification designating a temporary warning zone in the Black Sea in connection with the conduct of military exercises. The zone includes parts of Bulgaria's exclusive economic zone, the Bulgarian Defence Ministry said, amid yesterday's NATO statement condemning Russia's dangerous behaviour in the Black Sea.

"Bulgaria and the Allies continue regular enhanced surveillance activities in the NATO area of responsibility," the defence ministry said, explaining that there was no cause for concern as the exercises would take place far from Bulgaria's territorial waters. "Although these actions do not constitute a formal violation of international legal norms, they are not considered good practice," the defence ministry said.

Speaking to journalists, Deputy Defence Minister Atanas Zapryanov said that according to international maritime law, the Russians are free to sail in the zone. "The problem is that by conducting exercises there, they have no right to impose an embargo on operations and impede shipping," he explained. 

"This is an attempt by Russia to raise the price of the grain deal, to hinder Ukraine and they will probably seek negotiations to bring the country back into the deal," the deputy minister added.

A day earlier, NATO said Russia's new Black Sea warning zone, within Bulgaria's exclusive economic zone, had created new risks of miscalculation and escalation, as well as serious impediments to freedom of navigation.

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