MOSCOW, Nov. 4 (Reuters) – A US Navy command ship entered the Black Sea on Thursday as part of NATO maneuvers that were warmly received by Ukraine but closely watched by the Russian Navy.
The US Navy has said Mount Whitney is in the region conducting routine maritime operations with NATO allies and partners.
The Black Sea – especially the area near the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed to Ukraine in 2014 – is a sensitive security zone for Moscow.
“The forces and assets of the Black Sea Fleet have started to monitor the actions of the command ship Mount Whitney,” TASS news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying.
President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russian forces would be able to observe Mount Whitney “through binoculars or through the reticle of (their) defense systems“. Read more
Russia, which severed ties with NATO last month, frequently complains about the alliance’s activity near its borders or in what it sees as its post-Soviet sphere of influence.
But the show of US military force was warmly welcomed by Ukraine.
“Welcome, #USSMountWhitney. Ukraine has called for and strongly supports an enhanced presence of our US partners and NATO in the region,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.
“An additional 18,400 tons of diplomacy certainly help with this goal. “
The ship’s visit coincided with National Unity Day, a Russian holiday that Putin pointedly marked by visiting Crimea and delivering a speech in which he said he was “now forever with Russia. », Provoking a strong protest from Ukraine. Read more
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Matthias Williams Writing by Mark Trevelyan Editing by Mark Potter
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