The US has deployed two warships to the Black Sea as Washington continues to stoke tensions in the region with Moscow.
On Saturday, the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet said the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter entered the Black Sea to operate alongside NATO allies and other partners, including Ukraine. On Monday, the Sixth Fleet said the command and control ship USS Mount Whitney arrived in Istanbul and would be heading to the Black Sea to join the Porter.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that the increased US and NATO presence in the Black Sea has led him to strengthen defense systems in the region. “Even now, a US warship has entered the Black Sea, and we can see it in binoculars or crosshairs of our defense systems,” he said.
On Tuesday, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet said it practiced destroying enemy targets. According to Russia’s Tass News Agency, the fleet said it used a coastal missile defense system “to eliminate a group of the mock enemy’s surface ships in the Black Sea.”
In October, the US flew B-1B bombers over the Black Sea that were escorted out of the area by Russian fighter jets. The bomber flight coincided with a visit to the region by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. During a stop in Ukraine, Austin signaled that the door is still open for Kyiv to eventually join NATO.
A report from The Washington Post on Sunday claimed there was a “renewed build-up” of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine. But both Kyiv and Moscow have denied the report.