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US destroyer enters Black Sea ‘to support regional partners’, Russia sends ship to ‘monitor’

US destroyer enters Black Sea ‘to support regional partners’, Russia sends ship to ‘monitor’
The destroyer USS Donald Cook has entered the Black Sea less than two weeks after another US Navy vessel was deployed there. Moscow says it will watch the actions of the US ship closely.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer was sent to the Black Sea to “conduct maritime security operations and enhance regional maritime stability,” the US 6th Fleet said in a statement on Saturday, adding that it would strengthen the “naval capability” of NATO allies and partners in the region. 

"The United States and the US Navy continue to stand alongside our allies and partners in support of shared regional interests and maritime stability,” said Cmdr. Matthew J. Powel, commanding officer of the Donald Cook.

“Our arrival into the Black Sea will showcase the Navy’s interoperability in pursuit of common security objectives in this region.”

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It is the second such deployment in less than two weeks. Earlier this month, the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry was deployed to the Black Sea where its crew trained with sailors from the Romanian Navy. The US Navy statement said that the US military vessels’ “routine” deployment to the Black Sea is in full accordance with international law. 

The Russian Navy dispatched a patrol vessel to monitor the actions of the US destroyer as it entered Black Sea waters, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. It also used additional “electronic and technical means” to monitor the situation. Under international law, US ships are allowed to stay in the waters of the Black Sea for no more than 21 days, the ministry said.

Six American military vessels carried out missions in the area in 2018, including the guided-missile destroyers USS Ross, USS Carney, and USS Porter, as well as the command ship USS Mount Whitney, the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill, and the expeditionary fast transport USNS Carson City.

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The situation in the area remains tense after three Ukrainian Navy ships violated the Russian maritime border in the Kerch Strait, between Crimea and mainland Russia, on November 25. The provocative actions of the Ukrainian vessels led to a lengthy chase and eventually prompted the Russian Coast Guard to use force to stop the perpetrators.

The incident, which occurred in an area that was Russian territorial waters even before reunification with Crimea in 2014, and ended in no fatalities, was quickly condemned by Washington as an act of “aggression” and led to the cancellation of a much-anticipated summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

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