(Web Desk) – The United States wants Russia to get used to American military presence on its doorsteps in the Black Sea, US and NATO military officials say.
As part of its plans to counter what it calls “the Russian aggression,” the US has recently deployed two warships to the Black Sea.
The US Navy announced Saturday that Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney had joined USS Ross, another warship of the same family, in the international waters near Russian territories.
It has now turned out that the decision is part of Washington’s efforts to “desensitize Russia” to the US military presence in the Black Sea, which separates Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Western Asia, CNN reported Monday night, quoting an unnamed US military official.
Two other US officials based in Europe told the news outlet that Russia was particularly sensitive to US military operations in the Black Sea, which have seen a dramatic increase following the 2014 reintegration of the Crimean Peninsula to Russian in a referendum.
The US and its allies in the Western military alliance NATO have accused Moscow of deploying large numbers of troops and military hardware to the peninsula, which was under Ukraine control before the referendum.
“Basically anything new that they have they are putting in Crimea,” a US defense official based in Europe told CNN.
A NATO official said although the alliance and Washington were planning to continue their buildup on Russia’s borders and in the Black Sea, they were not looking at it as a tit-for-tat deployment of military assets to the region.
Russia responded to Ross and Carney’s deployment by announcing on Sunday its own naval deployments to the area.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement that a Russian frigate, the Admiral Essen, and two patrol ships had sailed into the Black Sea to conduct a series of military drills.
The Kremlin has repeatedly censured what it perceives as mounting anti-Russia hysteria and Russophobia in Europe, and calls NATO’s military buildup at its doorstep a threat to its national security.
Furthermore, Moscow accuses NATO of spreading fear of Russia as a way to convince its member states to bump up their military spending.