At the bustling King George V Dock, the Ukrainian warships Chernihiv and Cherkasy prepared for Exercise Sea Breeze.

Amidst the activity, I spoke with Commodore Dmytro Kovalenko, Chief of Training of the Ukrainian Navy.

We discussed the importance of these exercises for Ukraine and the future security of the Black Sea.

When I asked Commodore Kovalenko about the significance of these exercises, his response was resolute: “The way to victory”. This simple yet powerful statement encapsulates Ukraine’s broader strategic goals as it engages in vital training and cooperation with NATO allies.

Opportunities for Collaboration

Kovalenko highlighted the invaluable benefits that Ukrainian crews gain from participating in exercises like Sea Breeze. “There is a huge need to train with NATO and our partners throughout the European theatre,” he explained.

This collaboration enhances their operational capabilities and strengthens their ties with NATO forces. “It’s a great opportunity to work with NATO,” he added, underscoring the importance of these joint exercises.

Glasgow, 24th June 2024. Image via NATO.

Securing the Future of the Black Sea

The strategic importance of the Black Sea was a central theme in our discussion. Kovalenko stressed its role as a vital hub for global imports and exports. “The Black Sea is a major hub for imports and exports, and training for a post-conflict era Black Sea is key to preserving security and stability,” he said.

Ensuring this region’s security is crucial for Ukraine’s economic stability and global maritime trade. Participation in exercises like Sea Breeze is also a powerful statement of commitment to democratic values and national sovereignty.

“Participating in exercises like Sea Breeze supports maritime security and our fight for democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” Kovalenko remarked. This sentiment reflects Ukraine’s broader aspirations as it navigates through current conflicts and looks towards a peaceful future.

Glasgow, 24th June 2024. Image via NATO.

Speaking with Commodore Kovalenko offered insight into the Ukrainian Navy’s strategic vision. The exercises serve as a tool for enhancing their readiness and interoperability with NATO forces while also underlining the importance of international cooperation in securing maritime domains.

The participation of Ukrainian warships Chernihiv and Cherkasy in Exercise Sea Breeze underscores their readiness for immediate challenges and their commitment to a stable Black Sea. As Commodore Kovalenko remarked, these exercises are indeed “the way to victory.”

They reflect not just military training but Ukraine’s broader goals of democracy, sovereignty, and peace. Through these rigorous drills and collaboration with NATO allies, Ukraine is preparing for future challenges while strengthening its role in regional security and showcasing its resilience and determination.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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