The Ukraine Ministry of Defence’s announcement regarding their participation in Dogu Akdeniz-2021 (DA2021) was a clue to achieve a milestone in Turkey and Ukraine defence cooperation, which has been improving year by year.
Ukrainian Navy officials told local news agency Army Inform:
“Ukraine Navy officials took part in the initial planning conference of DA2021 exercise, which will be conducted at the Eastern Mediterranean by the end of this year.”
The Ukrainian Navy officials mentioned that the event’s participants discussed the general concept of training, coordination issues and lessons learned from the previous iterations of the exercise. The conference was conducted online due to the COVID-19 measures.
The Ukrainian Navy is willing to embark its officers on Ada-class corvettes during the exercise to train its crew for the forthcoming corvettes.
As Naval News reported, Ukraine and Turkey inked a strategic defence industry cooperation memorandum at the end of 2020, including technology transfer and production of MİLGEM-class corvettes and TB-2 Bayraktar unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) for the needs of the Ukrainian Navy. These projects mean a lot for the Ukrainian Navy to strengthen the combat capabilities of the Ukrainian Navy to enhance security in the Black and Azov Sea regions.
On the Turkey side, the agreement is considered critical due to the technology transfer of gas turbine engines. After the CAATSA sanctions imposed by the U.S., Turkey has been trying to develop solutions for the gas turbine engine needs of the Turkish Armed Forces. In addition to Turkey’s indigenous efforts, Ukraine will support Turkey developing and producing gas turbine engines for military purposes.
Meanwhile, the growing relations between Turkey and Ukraine is disturbing for Russia. After the conflict in the Donbass region evolved to a full fledged crisis, Russia expressed its discomfort on Ukraine’s UCAV purchase from Turkey. Russia’s reaction to Ukraine’s declaration of its intention to participate in the DA2021 exercise is also a matter of curiosity, while Turkey has been trying to keep the delicate balances in the region.
About Dogu Akdeniz exercise
Dogu Akdeniz, or East Mediterranean, is an annual INVITEX hosted and led by the Turkish Navy that aims to strengthen the relationships between friendly and ally nations, enhance the cooperation, combined combat capability and interoperability.
The exercise provides operational training for participating units in planning and conducting anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and basic seamanship in a multi-threat environment.
In 2019, the 22nd edition of the exercise was conducted successfully, but last year’s iteration was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Turkish Navy considers the Dogu Akdeniz exercise series as critical not only for the presence of the Turkish Navy in the region but also to assume more influential roles in NATO. In the 2019 edition of the exercise, the Turkish Navy formed and checked command and control capabilities TURMARFOR (Turkish Maritime Force), which was declared to NATO as a high-readiness maritime force.