On Thursday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal called on NATO to increase its presence in the Black Sea and elsewhere in the region over tensions with Russia.
“Ensuring the constant presence of maritime warships of the NATO alliance in the Black Sea would be a very strong signal,” Shmyhal told Politico. “In the same way, a very strong signal would be the increase of intelligence and reconnaissance flights across the Russian border, in particular in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea.”
There is already an almost-constant presence of US and NATO warships in the Black Sea. On Thursday, the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet said a US Navy guided-missile destroyer entered the Black Sea soon after two other US destroyers wrapped up operations in the waters.
Shmyhal’s call is similar to one made by Poland. At NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, Polish President Andrzej Duda called for more allied troops to be deployed to Poland and the Baltic States of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.
“It is also our request that the readiness of the alliance be increased, that the strategic cautiousness be increased and especially the monitoring of that situation along the eastern flank of NATO,” Duda said.
Over the past few weeks, the US has been claiming Russia is planning an invasion of Ukraine based on an alleged troop build-up near the Ukrainian border. The US reportedly shared intelligence on the assessment with European allies. “We are receiving information all the time about the Russian build-up, perhaps an aggressive build-up in the direct neighborhood of the Ukrainian border,” Duda said.
The Russians insist that any troop movement inside their own borders is not meant as a threat to anyone. Moscow points to the increase in US and NATO activity in the region as the source of tensions and why they need to further militarize the region.