Ukraine Military Says Sea Breeze-2009 Exercise Called Off

KIEV, Ukraine -- There will be no Sea Breeze naval exercises with NATO forces in Ukraine's Crimea this summer, a source in the Ukrainian Navy command said on Monday.

U.S. sailors aboard the Guided Missile Destroyer Mcfaul take part in fire drill during the Sea Breeze-2008 NATO military exercises in the Black Sea port of Odessa July 15, 2008. Naval and air forces from 15 countries took part in the military exercises in Ukraine.

A military exercise with the participation of foreign troops requires parliamentary permission, but the Ukrainian parliament has refused to even consider the matter.

The source said the U.S. military command had informed Ukraine last week that the Ukrainian-U.S. naval exercise would not take place this year.

Sea Breeze-2009 was due to be conducted in July.

Sea Breeze exercises have been held annually in the Crimea since 1997, and have been subject to occasionally violent anti-NATO protests in recent years.

Last year's Sea Breeze drills saw protesters set up camps along the Black Sea coast, and reportedly attempt to prevent foreign warships, participating in the exercises, from leaving the port of Odessa.

Source: RIA Novosti