US missile cruiser enters Black Sea amid Ukraine crisis

US missile cruiser enters Black Sea amid Ukraine crisis
Thu Aug 7, 2014 11:14:20

US missile cruiser Vella Gulf has entered the Black Sea in what the American Navy described as a move to "to promote peace and stability in the region." Moscow has considered any such acts as “offensive.”

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) entered the Black Sea on Wednesday as part of the effort to “strengthen the collective security of NATO allies and partners in the region,” according to a statement by the US 6th Fleet.

“The US Navy's forward presence in Europe allows us to work with our allies and partners to develop and improve ready maritime forces capable of maintaining regional security,” the statement reads.

It’s not the first time this year that Vella Gulf is sent on a mission in the Black Sea. It was moored in the port of Constanta, Romania from late May till mid-June.

In July, the US missile cruiser spent a week in the Black Sea, joining six other vessels for NATO’s naval drills.

NATO has increased its presence in the region in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis. Moscow has never approved of what it sees as the military alliance’s muscle-flexing in its backyard.

Vladimir Putin has promised Russia will respond to NATO’s expansion towards its borders.

“No matter what our Western counterparts tell us, we can see what’s going on," Putin said at an emergency Security Council meeting in late July. "As it stands, NATO is blatantly building up its forces in Eastern Europe, including the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea areas. Its operational and combat training activities are gaining in scale.”

Putin stated that NATO’s military build-up near Russia’s border is not just for defense, but is an “offensive weapon” and an “element of the US offensive system deployed outside the mainland.”

Earlier, Russia responded to NATO's military drill in the Black sea by launching its own war games in the region on the same day.


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