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Greece to lead EU naval mission in Red Sea - El Pais

Greece to lead EU naval mission in Red Sea - El Pais Illustrative photo (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Greece is set to lead a new military-naval mission of the EU in the Red Sea. A Greek commander will head the new operation aimed at escorting and protecting European ships from attacks by Houthi rebels, according to El Pais.

Sources within the EU indicated that the Greek commander will operate from a maritime operational headquarters aboard an Italian vessel.

It is expected that on Monday, February 19, EU foreign ministers will approve the new protection and escort mission, dubbed "Aspides," consisting of four frigates and lasting at least a year.

EU ships will be capable of intercepting missiles and drones and defending European escort vessels but will respond only to attacks from the sea. According to diplomatic sources, they will not engage targets on land.

The mission will operate independently from the US-led "Guardian of Prosperity" mission in the region, which it will collaborate and exchange information with, including intelligence.

The operation was organized on short notice in response to concerns about deteriorating maritime security in the area. Commercial vessels are already avoiding the Red Sea, opting for longer routes, leading to increased costs.

EU mission to protect navigation in the Red Sea

Previously, EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell said that member states had reached a fundamental political agreement to commence a military operation ensuring the security of maritime trade in the Red Sea.

It is expected to put an end to Houthi attacks on commercial vessels from Yemen.

Earlier reports indicated that Germany would deploy the "Hessen" frigate to the Red Sea as part of the EU mission against the Houthis.

Additionally, Belgium will contribute the frigate Louise-Marie to participate in the European defense operation in the region.

For more information on who the Houthis are and why they are targeting ships, please refer to RBC-Ukraine's coverage.