US Show of Force in the Black Sea Sending Russia a Message

The US Navy has taken what it calls proactive measures by sending an increased presence into the Black Sea to counter what it has termed increased Russian presence there. Lately, the Russians have become belligerent to any US or NATO presence there, which it considers their territory.

It’s a region that has become increasingly fraught with tensions as Russia has reinforced its military forces in the area following its seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move rejected by the vast majority of the international community.

On Saturday the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney joined the USS Ross in the Black Sea to “conduct maritime security operations,” according to a statement from the US Navy’s 6th Fleet, which oversees US naval operations in the region. It’s the first time two US Navy warships have been in the Black Sea since July 2017.

“Our decision to have two ships simultaneously operate in the Black Sea is proactive, not reactive,” US Navy Vice Adm. Christopher Grady, the commander of 6th Fleet, said in a release announcing the Carney’s arrival.

“We operate at the tempo and timing of our choosing in this strategically important region,” Grady said, adding that “the continued presence of the U.S. Navy in the Black Sea demonstrates our enduring commitment to regional stability, maritime security of our Black Sea partners, and the collective defense of our NATO allies”

The Russians are sensitive about any NATO ships in the Black Sea, which it considers their territory. That’s why they’ve buzzed US surveillance planes, in one case coming within 5-feet of one last month. They’ve also deployed submarines to the area in response.

NATO officials counter that their countries own more coastline on the Black Sea than the Russians do and they’ll continue to operate there. One official was quoted as stating “The Black Sea isn’t a Russian lake.”

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Photo courtesy: US Navy