According to data compiled in a report by Stars & Stripes, US warships more than doubled their presence in the Black Sea in 2021 compared to the year before.
The report said US warships spent about 182 collective days in the Black Sea in 2021. Last year, Stars & Stripes reported that the US Navy spent 82 days in the Black Sea in 2020.
While the 2021 numbers were significantly higher than the previous year, they were still lower than 2014, when the US-backed coup in Kyiv led Russia to take Crimea. In 2014, US warships spent about 210 days in the Black Sea. But two years after the coup, the number was down to 58.
The recent increase of US and NATO activity in the Black Sea is viewed as a major provocation in Moscow and was part of the reason why Russia sent more forces to its bases in western Russia and on the Black Sea in Crimea, what the West portrays as a troop buildup along Ukraine’s border.
Besides the naval presence, the US and its allies have also been deploying spy planes and bombers to fly over the Black Sea. Russian jets typically intercept the Western planes and escort them out of the area.