US Navy, Russia, Black Sea

Russia announced Moscow is planning a response to US Navy destroyer USS Porter entering the Black Sea, but did not specify how.

It makes sense that Russian officials see vessel movements in the Black Sea as a show of force. The United States is participating in the largest NATO military training event in Poland since the end of the Cold War, a clear warning to the country to rethink its foreign policy objectives. But Moscow has been warned time and time again to curb its aggressive behavior, yet remains active in supporting a violent separatist movement in Ukraine. If Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to flood the Black Sea or any other waterway with warships, it will only justify NATO encirclement.

Russia Considers Response

The USS Porter entered the Black Sea this week after being armed with a new Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System and assault cruise missiles. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, this repeatedly occurs without approval from The Kremlin.

“American warships do enter the Black Sea now and then. Certainly, this does not meet with [Russia’s] approval and will undoubtedly lead to planning response measures,” Foreign Ministry official Andrey Kelin said.

Kelin explained the presence of USS Porter in the Black Sea as well as the deployment of aircraft carrier USS Truman in the Mediterranean is a show of force from the US and its allies.

“There is nothing special about the movement of US vessels in this case. We know that aircraft carriers are moving in the Mediterranean Sea and elsewhere, they have a right to do so, this is freedom of navigation,” Kelin said.

He added: “But in general, this is a definite increase in Russia-US relations and all this is done ahead of the NATO summit in Warsaw – this is a demonstration of force.”

US naval movement in the Black Sea occurs alongside Anaconda 2016, the largest NATO military exercise in eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. The 10-day training event involves 31,000 troops from 24 countries. NATO officials say the purpose of the exercise is to test cooperation between allied commands.

US-Russian relations have been strained since Moscow annexed neighboring Georgia and Crimea, a sign the Kremlin was exploring the possibility of reviving the Soviet empire. NATO has planned a litany of military cooperation exercises as a response with a special emphasis on cybersecurity.

REUTERS says NATO is not an aggressor
U.S. Navy officials told reporters on Wednesday the U.S. military would also have two aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean this month ahead of a July NATO summit in Warsaw as Washington sought to balance Russian military activities.

USNI says it will be hard for Russia to show force
Prior to the new frigate, the Black Sea Fleet was populated by mostly 1980s era surface combatants and newer but smaller patrol craft. The new push to refresh its surface forces might be difficult to sustain…Russian ship builders have also been plagued by construction delays.

RT explains disconnect between powers
NATO decided to break off all contact with Russia in 2014, when Viktor Yanukovych was ousted as Ukraine’s president during the so-called Euromaidan riots. A NATO-Russia Council meeting was held in June 2014, but the council was then subject to a lengthy break and meetings have only recently restarted.