Russian Black Sea fleet officials said they dispatched the Novocherkassk large amphibious landing ship to participate in multilateral maneuvers through April 23, Russia's state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reports.
The Russian report said operations are part of a mission meant to promote security and stability in the region and strengthen relationships with littoral states. The ship carries a naval infantry unit on board.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered snap military maneuvers in the Black Sea last week. The Russian news agency said the drills were meant to prepare the military for next year's Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
The drill coincided with a decision by the government of Georgia to refuse a draft non-aggression pact from Russian regarding the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia and Russian waged war briefly in 2008 over the territories.
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