On September 3rd, Turkey issued two new navigational telex (or Navtex) alerts in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Turkish and Russian navies will conduct live-fire military drills in the area.
Turkey, a NATO member country, will carry out exercises with Russia.
The announcement advises sailors not to enter the drilling zone and in areas where ships are conducting research, Turkish Naval Forces Hydrography and Oceanography Department said in a statement.
According to naval alerts, Russian forces will conduct two separate shooting exercises on both sides of Cyprus island.
The two-phased Russia’s shooting exercise in the eastern Mediterranean will take place from September 8-22 and the other from September 17-25.
Issued by the Turkish navy’s Office of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography, navtex number 1102/20 announces exercises for September 8-22 covering an area south of Kastellorizo where the Turkish seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis is currently active, but which is outside the Greek continental shelf and Athens’ jurisdiction.
The second navtex – numbered 1103/20 – is for live-fire Russian exercises from September 17-25 off the coast of Cyprus in an area where Turkey’s Barbaros seismic survey vessel is active.
Nicosia has issued notices to airmen (notam) in response to the navtex, which came shortly after the United States announced the lifting of an embargo for non-lethal weapons on Cyprus.
The embargo in question was imposed by the US back in 1987, in the hope that it could encourage the reunification of the island.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades of the change in a phone call on September 1st.
From October 1, the US will remove blocks for one year on the sale or transfer of “non-lethal defence articles and defence services”, the State Department said.
Pompeo also “reaffirmed US support for a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island”, according to State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
President Anastasiades welcomed the lifting of the embargo, saying that it was a “positive” development “reinforce[d] the bilateral security relationship” between the two countries.
Turkey, however, immediately condemned the decision.
“It poisons the peace and stability environment in the region,” the Turkish foreign ministry said, adding it does “not comply with the spirit of alliance” between the US and Turkey.
If Washington did not reverse course, the ministry said, “Turkey, as a guarantor country, will take the necessary decisive counter steps to guarantee the security of the Turkish Cypriot people, in line with its legal and historical responsibilities.”
Both Greece and Turkey have staged naval drills in the area to assert their sovereign claims. Meanwhile, the European Union – which counts Greece and Cyprus as members – warned Ankara on August 28th to pull back or face sanctions.
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