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Between NATO and Russia, we love each other at sea

(credit: NATO)
In the foreground the mine hunter Narcis then its Dutch counterpart the Makkum (credit: NATO)

(B2) Six NATO ships and two Russian ships carried out a PASSEX – passage exercise – in the waters of Saint Petersburg. Under the command of Piotr Sikora of the Polish Navy, theORP Czernicki (Poland), theENS Admiral Cowan (Estonia), the SNB Narcis (Belgium M-923), the HNLMS Makkum (Netherlands, M-857), the HNoMS Rauma (Norway) and the FGS Dillingen (Germany) – which form the “permanent” anti-mine group (SNMCMG1) handed over to two Russian ships in Russian territorial waters, before concluding with a visit to the port of Saint Petersburg. All concluded with the usual receptions aboard the Russian ship Aurora, a ceremony at the Piskarevsky cemetery in tribute to the victims of the siege of the city (then Leningrad) from 1941 to 1944 and a football match. The ships have since left port to join the major NATO exercise Steadfast Jazz.

To talk to

« This kind of cooperation paves the way for future joint Russia-NATO operations commented Commander Sikora. " Speaking with our Russian counterparts during this stopover allowed us to recognize that there are many areas of military cooperation between NATO and Russia, notably in the area of ​​counter-piracy and terrorism, education, training, search and rescue at sea. This improves understanding between NATO and Russia, but also improves interoperability and cooperation in areas of common interest ».

NB: If a “Passex” exercise has a technical role – checking that communication goes well between ships from different countries or even possible interoperability – it more often has a symbolic and political value of displaying a “friendship” between different countries . This is the case in this exercise.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).