(LibertySociety.com) – On November 4, a United States Navy command flagship, the USS Mount Whitney, entered the Black Sea to join other ships and “further enhance collaboration” with NATO forces. Russian President Vladamir Putin was unhappy about the activity so close to his border and closely watched the situation. He said the US amphibious ship was visible “through binoculars or in the crosshairs” of his defense systems used to monitor the sea.
Putin’s concern is nothing new. He’s recently complained several times that alliance activity in the region was too close for comfort to the Russian border. A NATO official responded that they’re simply monitoring soviet force movements and want to “ensure transparency” in the region while practicing naval maneuvers.
Activity in the Black Sea
Satellite photos taken on November 1 of the Ukraine border show the Kremlin is building up forces and moving equipment into the area. On November 2, Russia denied increasing its military presence there, which Ukraine appeared to affirm. However, there was confirmation Putin’s Black Sea fleet began rehearsing the destruction of enemy targets “with anti-aircraft missile weapons.”
Adding to the credibility of Russia’s seemingly threatening crosshair remarks, its military opened fire on a destroyer from the Royal Navy in June while claiming the HMS Defender entered Russian waters.
Since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, it has warned Western countries to keep warships away from the peninsula’s coast. Although Putin claims the region as his own, the international community still considers the area Ukraine’s.
The Kremlin’s watchful eye, hair-trigger defense, and the boasting of its fleet of kamikaze drones only add to the country’s tensions with the United States.
The Trouble With NATO and the US
In October, Moscow closed its NATO alliance offices because the organization removed eight Russian officials from its headquarters in Brussels under the suspicion they were operating as Russian intelligence officers. The foreign ministry from the Eastern country said NATO was wrong in its accusations, and the move showed NATO wasn’t interested in “deescalating military-political tensions.”
Although General Mark Milley said Moscow’s movements were significant in remarks on Nov. 3, he claims they’re “nothing overtly aggressive.” President Joe Biden didn’t go into specifics about the meeting, but he sent Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William Burns to the Russian city to ease tensions. There’s no telling where relations between the US and Russia will go from here, but it’s important to keep communication lines open to avoid conflict.
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