Tag Archives: Black Sea

US soldiers arrive in Lithuania to ‘reassure’ NATO allies amid Ukrainian crisis

American soldiers stand on the tarmac after arriving at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014.

American troops have arrived in Lithuania for military drills as tensions rise in the region over Ukraine. Russia has voiced its concern over the troop buildup in Eastern Europe as well as to the deployment of NATO ships in the Black Sea.

The Lithuanian government welcomed the arrival of 150 troops at the Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base in Siauliai on Saturday, reported Reuters. Referring to the escalating tensions in Ukraine, President Dalia Grybauskaite said “we know in this situation who our real friends are coming to help.”

“If any of our guests are injured, it would mean an open confrontation not with Lithuania but with the United States,” she added. The group of troops is part of a larger contingent of 600 troops that have been deployed throughout Eastern Europe to reassure NATO allies. Another company of soldiers arrived in Poland on Wednesday and in Latvia on Friday. Troops are also expected to arrive in Estonia on Monday.

“It’s a message to anyone who will listen, and the message is that the United States of America will honor its commitments to Lithuania,” Richard Longo, Deputy Commanding General of US Army Europe, told reporters in Siauliai.

According to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry the soldiers will conduct a number of military exercises throughout this year.

US soldiers walk at the airport after arriving at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014.

The US Department of Defense announced the drills on Tuesday, saying they sent a clear message to Moscow.
“If there’s a message to Moscow, it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe,” Kirby told reporters. Washington has accused Russia of meddling in the affairs of neighboring Ukraine, which is currently embroiled in a crisis that shows no signs of abating.

Russia denies it has any involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and has alleged that the US is “running the show.” In addition, Moscow has spoken out against the buildup of allied force troops in Eastern Europe, saying their war games will not help to normalize the situation in Ukraine.

“Our concern is caused by an increase of US air force and military personnel in the Baltic, Poland, and also the Alliance’s ships in the Black Sea,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement, quoting General Valery Gerasimov who spoke with his American counterpart on Friday.

The US has also deployed frigate USS Taylor in the Black Sea, which will shortly be joined by French NATO vessel Dupleix. France will also send four fighter jets to participate in aerial patrols over the Baltics.

Lithuanian soldiers and US soldiers stand in front of an aircraft of the US air force at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014.

Moscow has voiced its concern over the Ukrainian government troops that have been deployed in the East of the country as part of an “anti-terror” operation. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers, 160 tanks, 230 armored carriers and at least 150 artillery pieces have been deployed in the region. At least five people have been killed so far during the Ukrainian operation.

In response to the buildup of troops close to its borders, Shoigu said Russia was “forced” to begin military drills on Thursday.

Moscow does not recognize Kiev’s coup-appointed government and has decried the use of force against Ukrainian civilians in the east of the country.

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US sends 600 troops to Eastern Europe, warship USS Taylor enters Black Sea

U.S. Navy frigate USS Taylor sets sail in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Black Sea in Istanbul April 22, 2014

US frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50) has entered the Black Sea, according to the US Navy, as the Pentagon announces plans to dispatch some 600 troops to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for military exercises.

The US claims the ship’s entry is “to promote peace and stability in the region.”

“The US Navy routinely operates ships in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and International Law. Taylor’s mission is to reassure NATO allies of the US Navy’s commitment to strengthen and improve interoperability while working toward mutual goals in the region,” read a US Navy statement released on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has previously stated that the US has been violating the Montreux Convention which restricts the number of US vessels operating in the Black Sea and sets a time limit of 21 days for each one.

At the beginning of February, the USS Taylor was initially posted in the Black Sea. However, damages to the warship’s propeller assembly after running aground in the Black Sea caused a spike in tensions between the US and Russia after it caused the ship to exceed the time allotted to its stay by 11 days.

US soldiers of the Airborne Division

US troops heading to Baltics

The 600 troops are to be sent to Poland and the Baltic states in the coming days in order to offer support to NATO allies which have expressed concern following Crimea’s accession to Russia, the Pentagon stated on Tuesday.

“I’m told they’re infantry level – infantry training exercises,” said Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby in a press briefing given on Tuesday. However, he added that he couldn’t provide specifics.

Kirby pointed out that the bilateral exercises were a supplement to the standard military exercises which the countries undertake together and were because of current events in Ukraine.

“The United States takes seriously our obligations under Article 5 of the NATO alliance, even though these aren’t NATO exercises,” Kirby said. “It’s a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe.”

Last Friday, Poland’s Defense Minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, said that this week Poland and the United States would be announcing the dispatch of ground forces to Poland take part in a two-week land-forces exercise. Some 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy are to begin the exercises in Wednesday after which similar exercises will follow in the Baltics.

US troops will rotate in and out of all four countries. “We’re looking at trying to keep this rotational presence persistent throughout the rest of this year,” Kirby stated, adding that exercises could potentially expand into other countries.

The measures are being taken as part of a stepped-up effort announced last week by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in order to reassure NATO allied states.

Relations between Russia and the West became strained after an armed coup in February deposed President Viktor Yanukovich following months of protests. Moscow considers the events to have been orchestrated by the EU and the US and does not recognize the post-coup authorities as legitimate.

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Military dolphins from US to take part in NATO summer exercises in the Black Sea

MOSCOW, April 21, ITAR-TASS

American military dolphins will take part in NATO’s forthcoming summer exercises in the Black Sea, Tom LaPuzza, spokesman for the US Navy’s marine mammals program, told the newspaper Izvestia. He said those would be NATO’s first exercises involving military dolphins.

“It may so happen that American and Russian military dolphins will meet in the open sea for the first time: it is known that such dolphins are trained only in Russia and the USA,” the newspaper writes.

LaPuzza says the exercises involving 20 dolphins and 10 sea lions will continue for about one to two weeks (the maximum permissible period for the stay of (naval craft of) countries which have no outlet to the Black Sea is 21 days).

LaPuzza said that when in the Blacks Sea the American dolphins would test a new anti-radar which is designed to “disorientate enemy sonars while sea lions would look for mines and naval divers”.

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Two NATO warships in Black Sea, one remains in Cyprus port

MOSCOW, April 18. ITAR-TASS.

Two NATO warships the US “Donald Cook” with the Aegis missile defense system on board and the large French reconnaissance ship “Dupuy de Lome” are in the Black Sea for the present. The French destroyer Dupleix, which was planned to enter the Black Sea on April 14, remains in the Cypriot port of Limassol in the Mediterranean, a Russian Defence Ministry source has told ITAR-TASS this Friday.

The Donald Cook and the Dupuy de Lome left the Romanian port of Constanta after staying there for a few days. The US destroyer was in the western part of the sea and the French ship was in its central part, the source said, noting that a fuss was created all over the world over a flight of a Russian Su-24 bomber over the US warship, though it was routine practice usual for the United States itself.

As for the French destroyer Dupleix remaining in the port of Limassol for a week, it was unknown yet when the ship would arrive in the Black Sea, the source said.

The US and French warships entered the Black Sea on April 10 in connection with the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.

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Pentagon: Russian fighter jet repeatedly flew over US destroyer in Black Sea

Su-24 aircraft

The Pentagon said a Russian fighter jet made multiple close-range passes near an American navy destroyer. The warship was deployed in the Black Sea as Russian military monitored NATO’s systematic build-up of naval forces in the region.

The fighter appeared to be unarmed, US military said, calling the move “provocative and unprofessional”.

“This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with their national protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries,” said Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Pentagon defined the jet as a Russian Su-24 aircraft, or Fencer, which made 12 passes at low altitude near the USS Donald Cook that, at the time, was conducting a patrol in international waters in the western Black Sea, Reuters reported.

Earlier, a military official told AP that on April, 12, a Russian aircraft flew repeatedly within 1,000 yards of the USS Donald Cook at about 500 feet above sea level for over 90 minutes.

According to the official, the destroyer’s crew made several attempts to radio the Russian warplane requesting the reason for the manoeuvre. They then reportedly issued warnings to remain at a safe distance, however, there was no response from the Russian pilot.

A view of the destroyer USS Donald Cook is seen after it arrived at the Black Sea port of Constanta April 14, 2014.

Pentagon confirmed the fighter jet was not armed with any aerial bombs.

USS Donald Cook, a destroyer equipped with the powerful Aegis missile defense system, entered Black Sea on April, 10.

The US Defense Department claimed the ship’s mission was “to reassure NATO allies and Black Sea partners” following the events in Ukraine.

On Monday, the USS Donald Cook entered waters of Romania.

Last week the Russian military considered the USS Donald Cook manoeuvre part of a systematic build-up of naval forces and accused NATO of violating the Montreux Convention on naval movements in the Black Sea.

“What we are seeing is that for the first time since 2008, NATO is creating a naval battle group outside Russian borders,” a Russian military source told Interfax news agency.

According to the treaty, warships from non-Black Sea states can only stay in the basin for up to 21 days consecutively. USS Taylor spent 11 more than that in the region in February and March.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed “bemusement” over the move.

“Turkey [which administers the treaty] did not inform us about the overstay. We have expressed our concern to the Turkish and US side in a verbal note,” said a statement on the ministry website.

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US destroyer Donald Cook enters Black Sea amid Ukraine tension (VIDEO)

US warship USS Donald-Cook sails through the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 10, 2014, en route to the Black Sea.

USS Donald Cook, a destroyer equipped with the powerful Aegis missile defense system, has crossed through the Bosphorus and entered the Black Sea, with Russia claiming that NATO is assembling a battle fleet in the region.

Earlier, the US Defense Department said the ship’s mission was “to reassure NATO allies and Black Sea partners” following the events in Ukraine.

“It demonstrates our commitment to our … allies to enhance security, readiness and capabilities,” spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said in a statement.

But sources in the Russian military believe the move is part of a systematic build-up of naval forces.

“What we are seeing is that for the first time since 2008, NATO is creating a naval battle group outside the Russian borders,” a source told Interfax news agency, citing the entry of French reconnaissance ship Dupuy de Lome and destroyer Dupleix – both expected within the next week.

The French rescue vessel Alize has been inside the Black Sea basin since late last month.

“The purpose of this is to provide moral support for the regime in Kiev, but also as a demonstration of power to make Russia come to heel. But the ship will also collect information on Russian military activity in Crimea and on the Ukrainian border,” the source said.

Russia’s Black Sea fleet is stationed in Sevastopol in Crimea, which was incorporated into Russia following a referendum last month.

NATO also believes that Moscow is massing troops on its border with eastern Ukraine, which has experienced uprisings by pro-Russian activists calling for secession from Kiev. On Thursday, NATO released satellite shots of Russian border bases heaving with troops and equipment, though Moscow has said that the shots are from last year, and in any case, show no unusual activity.

USS Donald Cook had already aroused the anger of Moscow when it arrived in Europe earlier this year, as it carries the sophisticated Aegis weapons and radar system and will form a key part of NATO’s missile defense shield in Europe. Moscow has vehemently opposed the project, saying it is a direct security threat and alters the nuclear balance of power in the region.

Moscow has said that NATO naval movements since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis at the end of last year have violated the Montreux Convention on naval movements in the Black Sea.

According to the treaty, warships from non-Black Sea states can only stay in the basin for up to 21 days consecutively. USS Taylor spent 11 more than that in the region in February and March.

On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed “bemusement” over the supposed violations.

Turkey [which administers the treaty] did not inform us about the overstay. We have expressed our concern to the Turkish and US side in a verbal note,” said a statement on the ministry website.

US warship, USS Donald Cook, sails through the Bosporus in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 10, 2014, en route to the Black Sea.

But even if Washington complies with the terms of the treaty, it is unlikely to reduce its military presence beyond the Bosphorus.

“Since February, whenever one US ship leaves the Black Sea, one or more replace it. It is possible that this rotation will be kept up for ships operating the Aegis system,” the Russian military source said.

RT News

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Second US Navy destroyer heads to Black Sea

Another US military ship is set to be deployed in the Black Sea amid the Ukrainian crisis. The US Navy destroyer Donald Cook will join the USS Truxtun, whose stay in waters bordering Russia was extended to ‘conduct drills’ with Romania and Bulgaria.

“We’ll also send another ship to the Black Sea within a week,” Derek Chollet, the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs told the House Armed Services Committee, as he said the Department of Defense sanctioned to prolong USS Truxtun’s stay in the Black Sea “to conduct exercises with Romanian and Bulgarian naval forces,” after it left the region on March 21.

Chollet highlighted the main pillars of the Department of Defense response to the crisis in Ukraine and how they fit within the overall policy of US response towards Russia, saying that Moscow’s move to accept Crimea’s choice to join Russia “challenges our vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace.”

The Pentagon maintains senior-level defense dialogue with Ukrainian officials since the outbreak of the crisis, Chollet said.

“We have led efforts at NATO to offer Ukraine greater access to NATO exercises, invited Ukraine to participate in the development of military capabilities and provided capacity-building programs to the Ukrainian military,” he said.

On Monday the Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren also stated that a second US ship will soon arrive to the Black Sea. No details have been provided, but DoD official told AFP that USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer, has been deployed.

On Tuesday, headlines in Bulgaria circulated reports emerging from the Bulgarian Defense ministry, that a missile cruiser USS Donald Cook is soon to arrive to the Black Sea to join the war games.

Donald Cook is capable of firing SM-3 missiles, which allows the ship to function as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. It is deployed in Spain as part of the US missile shield program in Europe. The vessel is expected to dock into a number of ports along Romanian and Bulgarian coast, and bring some additional 175 US marines to the Romanian coast.

Last week, the Pentagon announced that the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response force in Spain will be reinforced with 175 marines.

“We’re increasing the number from 500 to 675,” Warren said, claiming that the move had been planned last year.

While the additional marines will officially be part of the Spain-based force, Warren said they are to be based in Romania where they will join nearly 300 marines already in the country.

Warren insisted that the purpose of additional deployment of another ship is done “primarily to reassure our allies and partners in the region that we’re committed to the region,” he said. “We’re still planning the details of our operations in the Black Sea but we expect port calls and exercises with other Black Sea nations.”

This is the fourth US warship to visit the Black Sea since February, a trend Moscow heavily criticized in the past.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Washington as violated the Montreux Convention which regulates the number ships that can enter the Black Sea.

“There exists the Montreux Convention, which gives extremely clear criteria limiting the deployment of warships not belonging to the Black Sea governments in regard to tonnage and length of stay,” Lavrov said.

“We have noticed that US warships have extended their deployment beyond the set terms a couple of times lately, and at times they did not always comply with the regulations that are set within the Montreux Convention.”

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‘Obama pushing world into war’ | The Herald

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NEW YORK. – US Presidesnt Barack Obama’s hegemonic policies regarding Russia are pushing the world into a new war, an analyst wrote in a column for the Press TV website. “Obama overthrew the Ukrainian government in order to be able to stuff the country into NATO, throw Russia out of its Black Sea naval base, and put US missile bases in Ukraine on Russia’s border,” Dr Paul Craig Roberts wrote in a column for Press TV on Saturday.

“Obama is angry that his plan didn’t pan out as intended, and he is taking his anger and frustration out on Russia,” he added.

The analyst pointed that Obama’s demand for more NATO troops to be stationed in Eastern Europe and the build-up of military forces on Russia’s borders to allegedly protect Poland and the Baltic states is yet another provocation by Washington that could trigger a war with Moscow.

“Obama doesn’t say what effect the US/NATO military build-up and numerous war games on Russia’s border will have on Russia.

“Will the Russian government conclude that Russia is about to be attacked and strike first? The reckless carelessness of Obama is the way wars start,” he said.

“Today the drive to war is blatantly obvious.

“The lies are obvious, and the entire West is participating, both media and governments,” he added.

“World War 1 (and World War 2) was the result of the ambitions and mistakes of a very small number of people,” the analyst recalled.

Meanwhile, NATO has accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the comment yesterday in an article for Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

“And they flout the principle that every state is sovereign, and free to choose its own fate,” he wrote in reference to Moscow.

Non-NATO member Ukraine’s policy on joining the alliance has changed over the past decade, but co-operation between the two has “grown steadily stronger as a result,” Rasmussen also said.

Tensions between the Western powers and Moscow heightened after Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16, in which nearly 97 percent of voters in Crimea said yes to reunion with Russia.

On March 21, President Putin signed into law documents that officially made the Black Sea peninsula part of the Russian territory despite condemnation from the West and the new Ukrainian government.

The move sparked angry reactions from the United States and the European Union, both imposing punitive measures against a number of Russian officials and authorities in Crimea.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the country has absolutely no intention of crossing into Ukraine. – Press TV

via ‘Obama pushing world into war’ | The Herald.

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US warship Truxtun begins naval exercise in Black Sea

The US Navy destroyer “USS Truxtun” enters the Black Sea port

The USS Truxtun destroyer started a one-day military exercise with the Bulgarian and Romanian navies in the Black Sea.

The US military has described the exercise as a “routine” mission scheduled ahead of the Ukraine crisis, which witnessed the Ukrainian opposition forcing the democratically elected president, Victor Yanukovich, to flee the capital Kiev on February 22, a US Naval official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Truxtun last week participated in drills with Romanian and Bulgarian ships a few hundred miles from Russian forces of the Black Sea Fleet.

“There are many reasons for exercises with allies, it allows us an opportunity to assure our NATO allies that we support them,” Shawn Eklund, a public affairs officer for US Naval Forces Europe, told Reuters.

The naval maneuvers follow Russia and Crimea signing treaty of accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in the Russian Federation.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov and Sevastopol mayor, Aleksey Chaly, signed a historic agreement for Crimea and Sevastopol to join the Russian Federation

The Crimean Peninsula juts into the north of the Black Sea, which is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which was founded by Prince Grigory Potemkin in 1783.

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2 killed, 2 injured in shooting near Crimea military research center, ‘sniper detained’

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Two people – a self-defense member and a Ukrainian soldier – were killed and two others wounded after snipers opened fire from a partially inhabited building near a military research center in Simferopol. One sniper was detained, another is on the run.

As RT producer Lida Vasilevskaya arrived on the scene, the perimeter of the Ukrainian military topography and navigation center had already been surrounded by men in camouflage and the situation was “calm.”

The local Interior Ministry said in a press release that shooting came from a house under construction opposite the center and targeted Crimean self-defense units as well the military center itself.

“Earlier today self-defense units were informed that a group of armed men had been discovered in a partially inhabited building,” the press release said. “As the self-defense were taking measures to check, they came under fire, presumably from a sniper rifle,” police said adding that shooting came “in two directions from one spot.”

One self-defense unit member was killed and another wounded, police said. Also, one Ukrainian soldier who was guarding the military research center, was killed, and another wounded.

Earlier, Ukrainian servicemen told RT that last night unknown groups tried to break into several military bases, but self-defense units managed to prevent them from entering.

“Guys from self-defense told me today that they were afraid of provocations,” Lida Vasilevskaya tweeted.

Crimean Interior Ministry did not rule out a provocation aimed at complicating the situation in the city after Crimea and Sevastopol were accepted into the Russian Federation.

Despite lack of verified details of what exactly happened in Simferopol, and a stream of conflicting reports, Kiev immediately claimed “Russian soldiers started shooting at Ukrainian servicemen”.

“This is a war crime without any statute of limitations,” coup-appointed Prime-Minister Yatsenyuk told a meeting at the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

In another immediate reaction to the accident, acting President Aleksandr Turchinov authorized Ukrainian troops stationed in Crimea to use firearms to “defend their lives.”

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