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Russia says its fleet monitoring US warship movements in Black Sea

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A file photo of US Coast Guard Patrol Cutter Hamilton (by AP)

Russia has expressed alarm about the presence of a US warship in the Black Sea while its naval forces were conducting military drills in the area, declaring that it was monitoring the actions of US Coast Guard Patrol Cutter Hamilton.

"The Black Sea forces and means have begun monitoring the actions of USCGC Hamilton, which entered the Black Sea on April 27," said Russian National Defense Control Center on Tuesday, shortly after the US Navy's Sixth Fleet confirmed the Hamilton had entered the Black Sea "to support NATO allies and partners."

Noting that the last time a naval vessel of this class entered the Black Sea in 2008, the Russian Defense Ministry further reiterated that the military presence of non-regional powers in the sea "does not facilitate regional stability," according to the report.   

Earlier on Tuesday, Russia's Black Sea Fleet had announced that its Moskva cruiser would hold live-fire drills with other ships and military helicopters.

The development came as a short video emerged online showing the process of the Russian military's monitoring of the US Coast Guard cutter's movements in the Black Sea.

Also on Tuesday, online resources monitoring global airspace reported that a US RQ-4B Global Hawk drone and a British RC-135W reconnaissance aircraft were conducting flights along Russia's Black Sea territorial waters for several hours, according to an RT report.

The report said however that such activities had not yet been confirmed by either US or Russian authorities.

US and NATO warships and military aircraft have had increasing presence in the Black Sea amid escalating tensions between members of the US-led military alliance and Russia in recent months.

Chief of the Russian military's General Staff Valery Gerasimov emphasized in December 2020 that the activities of NATO warships in the Black, Baltic, and Barents Seas had reached new heights and that so far this year, three US destroyers and one cruiser have sailed in the Black Sea.

In recent weeks, Ukraine and its Western allies expressed concern about Russian troop build-ups along its border to conduct military drills.

Russia says the military deployments are in response to increased activity by NATO forces in the area. Moscow, however, ordered the withdrawal of most of the troops after the completion of the exercises.

Further commenting on the matter, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu clarified on Tuesday that Moscow had not withdrawn its forces along the Ukraine border due to alleged external pressure, insisting that Russia moved troops around on its own territory as it saw fit.

"The actions of the US and NATO in the European region to increase the combat readiness of troops and strengthen their forward presence is contributing to an increase in military danger," Shoigu said.

Last week, Russia launched major military exercises in the Crimean Peninsula near the southern borders of Ukraine under the personal supervision of Shoigu. Around 10,000 ground troops and more than 40 warships took part in the Crimea exercises.


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