Argentina has dropped out of this year's UNITAS annual naval exercises sponsored by the United States, with the participation of South American and other extra-region naval units, which are currently taking place in the Atlantic organized by Brazil.
According to Argentine Defense minister Jorge Taiana the political decision not to join the multinational UNITAS LXIII event is because a Royal Navy vessel has been invited to participate, and Argentine policy is the safeguard its sovereignty rights over the South Atlantic islands.
The congressional bill referred to UNITAS states that Argentina in effect has been invited to participate in the combined naval exercises currently taking place in Brazilian waters, and although the Argentine navy was part of the team programming the event, when it was confirmed that United Kingdom units would be incorporated to the exercises, Argentina decided to suspend its participation given the sovereignty dispute with the UK over the South Atlantic islands and adjoining maritime spaces. The unit in question is the Ocean Patrol Vessel, HMS Forth currently operating in the Falkland Islands.
The Argentine displeasure follows on Brazilian policy to allow RAF aircraft in distress situations to land in Brazilian soil, despite the Kirchner government protests, and the fact that on September 8, Brazil held a huge naval display and parade, with many countries invited, including UK with HMS Forth.
The naval parade was to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Brazilian independence and the naval and air display in Rio do Janeiro included 21 units, submersibles, surface vessels, carriers and helicopters, of which eleven belonged to other countries including again HMS Forth. However an Argentine navy unit ARA Piedrabuena, one of the four OPV recently acquired from France was allowed to join the display.
Anyhow Argentine defense and congress sources allegedly were not entirely pleased with Taiana's decision who did not impede the OPV from joining the naval parade, but denied the Argentine navy participation in an international naval exercise taking place mainly in Brazilian waters, limiting prospects for training personnel, and which does not seem to endanger Argentine rights in the South Atlantic.
Critics also recall that an Argentine Task Force, with 220 members from the three services, are actually involved in peace operations next to a similar British force in the island of Cyprus under the command of United Nations. Argentina and UK have been sharing responsibilities in the island since 1993.