Russia tracks U.S. guided-missile destroyer in Black Sea amid mounting tensions with NATO


Russia says its navy has followed the movement of an American guided-missile destroyer that entered the Black Sea as tensions escalate between Moscow and NATO.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that the Black Sea Fleet was following the movements of the USS Porter after the US Navy tweeted on Friday that the destroyer had started its transit north to the Black Sea for operate with NATO allies and partners in the Region.

The US Navy said NATO members have started operations in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea to demonstrate “NATO’s commitment to maintaining freedom of navigation in international waters.”

This development comes shortly after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned that NATO was gradually building up forces near Russia’s borders after defense ministers from the Western military alliance stepped down. agree on a new defensive strategy against Russia on several fronts.

NATO’s new plan came days after Moscow closed its diplomatic mission to NATO and the alliance’s mission in Moscow after the alliance expelled eight Russian diplomats over allegations of espionage. Russia has denied the espionage allegations as baseless.

Meanwhile, videos on social media in recent days show Russian military trains and convoys moving large amounts of military equipment, including tanks and missiles, to the southern and western borders.

The military build-up raised concerns among Western countries, which called the move an irregular one.

“The point is, it’s not an exercise. It doesn’t seem like a training exercise. Something is happening. What is it? ”Said Michael Kofman, director of the Russia Studies program at US-based nonprofit analysis group CNA.

Kofman said satellite images show that Russian army forces normally based in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk did not return to Siberia after the exercises, and instead linked up with other Russian forces near the border. Ukrainian.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials have repeatedly warned that the expansion of NATO activities in Ukraine represents a “red line” for Moscow.

Putin has previously noted that Ukraine is functionally controlled by Western countries to foster anti-Russian sentiment.

“We will never allow our historic territories and the people close to us who live there to be used against Russia,” he wrote in a July article. “And to those who undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that in this way they will destroy their own country,” he added.

Ukraine as well as the EU and the United States claim that Russia is involved in an ongoing conflict that erupted in Ukraine’s Donbass region between government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. The West has imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing it of interfering in the conflict. Moscow denies the allegation.

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