MOSCOW, the Russian Federation (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Today (7th January), the Russian Ministry of Defence reported that the actions of the amphibious dock landing ship of the U.S. Navy – Fort McHenry that has entered the Black Sea, are closely monitored by the patrol ship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – Pytlivy, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
The exact statement of Russia’s Defence Ministry, quoted by TASS, says: “Patrol ship Pytlivy of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is performing a complex of activities to control the actions of amphibious transport dock (LSD) USS Fort McHenry.”
Fort McHenry entered the Black Sea at 21:00 Moscow time on 6th January and on the morning of 7th January at 9:30, it arrived at the Romanian port of Constanta. Aboard, there are about 500 Marines. The U.S. transport vessel is equipped with defensive weaponry including machine guns, short-range anti-missile systems and small cannons. It has little offensive capability.
The U.S. sent its ship to the Black Sea in response to the seized three Ukrainian vessels on 25th November in the Kerch Strait, when the Russian border guards opened fire on them. Since then, 24 Ukrainian sailors are in custody in Russia for illegal border crossing. After the incident, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko asked NATO to send their ships into the Black and Azov Seas.
According to the U.S. Navy officials , the vessel transits the Black Sea to show “collective commitment to the Black Sea security,” in a regularly scheduled Black Sea operation to patrol.
The spokesman of the U.S. 6th Fleet, Cmdr. Kyle Raines commented: “We routinely operate in the Black Sea consistent with international law and the Montreux Convention and will continue to do so. We also continue our call for Ukraine and Russia to seek a diplomatic resolution to their dispute.” Yet, it is not clear when another ship might cruise into the Black Sea.
Earlier in December last year, Kurt Volker, the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, said that the U.S. should consider the possibility to increase its presence in the Black Sea. He also reaffirmed Washington readiness to supply Kiev with additional lethal weapons.
Later, about 40 members of the U.S. Senate introduced a resolution calling for a prompt multinational freedom of navigation operation in the Black Sea. Furthermore, Washington is going to provide additional $ 10 million in military assistance to the Ukrainian Navy.
In late December, the Royal Navy ship HMS Echo entered the port of Odessa. Then, the British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that in this way London wanted to express its support to Ukraine and to signal that “this isn’t Russia’s sea, this is an international sea.”
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