Dec 06 2018

US may send warship to Black Sea to cool Russia-Ukraine tensions

The United States has begun preparations to sail a warship into the Black Sea in response to heightened tensions following Russia's seizure last month of Ukrainian ships and detention of Ukrainian sailors, CNN reported late Wednesday.

The U.S. military has requested that the State Department notify Turkey of its possible plan to sail a warship into the Black Sea, a move U.S. officials said is a response to Russia's actions against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, CNN said. 

Meanwhile, Moscow announced Wednesday that its troops in eastern Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014, conducted a military drill with anti-aircraft missile systems, and said that the Ukrainian government had undertaken "active preparations" for a military offensive in eastern Ukraine, using the recent declaration of martial law as a cover.

"Substantial offensive components are being transferred to the region, which are being dispersed along the entire contact line," Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Wednesday.

The US is required to notify Turkey about any passage through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles under the Montreux Convention, a 1936 treaty that governs the passage of military vessels through the straits linking the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Countries that do not have a coastline on the Black Sea are required to provide Turkey with at least 15 days' notice prior to transiting the straits.

U.S. officials told CNN that the notification was to provide the U.S. Navy with the option to move a warship into the area, but that this option would not necessarily be selected.