Bulgarian led NATO maritime drills, dubbed 'Breeze 2019,' took place in the Black Sea off the coast of Vara on Friday with the involvement of navies from a number of European countries and the US.
More than 2500 soldiers and dozens of warships, cutters, jets and helicopters took part during the drills which was observed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the Bulgarian naval chief Rear Admiral Mitko Petev.
Borissov commented on the Russian ships that were monitoring the drills from a distance, saying that "The presence of the Russian warships is normal because that is the way we understand mutual power - of NATO and of Russia."
"Knowing our mutual power we can achieve our strategy to keep Black sea as a place only for planned drills. And the rest of time it must be a place for commerce, tourism and gas connections," he added.
The Breeze exercise has taken place every year since 1996 with the aim to improve operational and tactical interoperability, enhance interagency cooperation, and evaluate Bulgarian navy units.