The Greek Pentagon and the Hellenic Navy are downplaying the shadowing of Greek frigates taking part in a military exercise named “Astrapi” (Lightning) by the Turkish frigate Barbaros.
The manoeuvres are taking place in the northern and central Aegean.
Hellenic Defence Ministry sources said that it is not the first time that Turkish warships have monitored Greek military manoeuvres.
Greek warships have in the past reportedly have followed a similar tactic, but never at such close proximity, and not shadowing the Turkish ships
Nor is it the first time, Greek Pentagon sources said, that Turkish ships have approached Cape Kafireas, or Cavo d’Oro, a promontory on the southern tip of Evia, considered one of the most dangerous straits in the Aegean.
Yet, the incident takes on a different charge in the aftermath of the near sinking of a Hellenic Coast Guard ship that was rammed by a Turkish Coast Guard ship on Monday, and the Turkish air and sea blockade of Cyprus by Turkish warships and warplanes seeking to prevent the Italian giant ENI from drilling in the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
Initial reports indicated that the USS Ross, a destroyer in the vicinity after participating in manoeuvres off of Albania, came between the Barbaros and the Greek frigate Themistoklis during the approach towards Cape Kafireas, as the Greek vessel was returning to the Salamis naval base.
The Turkish frigate then passed into international waters, southwest of the island of Melos, headed in a southerly direction.