December 14, 2021 – The French Army has announced in a tweet that it has deployed its frigate Auvergne in the Black Sea to “feed our autonomous assessment of the situation in the region”. The ship has been intercepted by the Russian frigate Essen; with which is has had a “professional interaction in accordance with the navigation rules”.
The tweet has also included a video that documents the radio communication between the crews of both frigates. We can hear the following dialogue:
Russians: “French warship, this is Russian warship. Please respect the distance of 2 nautical miles and maintain your direction”.
French: “Russian warship, this is French warship, I’m maintaining my turn course which is 025 12 knots”.
Russians: “French warship, this is Russian warship. My direction on 170 speed 11 knots”.
French: “Russian warship, this is French warship. Thank you very much; stay in watch on 16”.
The Black Sea is a confined sea that is delimited by lands belonging to Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. It is accessible via the Turkish straits through the Aegean sea and the sea of Marmara.
The region has been subject to tensions and several incidents recently between NATO’s and Russian warships. The U.S. and its allies aim to test the accessibility of the Black Sea as an international domain that is out of Russian control.