U.S. Looks To Run Navy Operation In Black Sea, Risks Heightening Tensions With Russia

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by Aaron Kesel, Activist Post:

The U.S. is looking to run a Navy operation commandeering a Navy warship into the Black Sea in defiance of Russia which risks a sharp rise in tensions between Ukraine, Moscow and the U.S., CNN reported.

The Pentagon has asked the State Department to request permission from Turkey to sail ships into the Black Sea, which borders both Ukraine and Russia as access to the Sea of Azov, a key area for a string of confrontations between Moscow and Kiev.

According to CNN, the Pentagon’s insane request is unclear if the U.S. Navy plans to follow through on entering the Black Sea. It could be the striking point that spurs conflict between the two countries.

A State Department spokesman refused to comment on the specifics of the matter, but stated that “the United States carries out its activities consistent with the terms of the Montreux Convention. We will not, however, comment on the nature of our diplomatic correspondence with the Government of Turkey.”

Access to the Black Sea through the Bosporus Strait is governed by the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, requiring governments to secure permission from Turkey 15 days before passage.

A 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov (off the coast of Crimea) as shared territorial waters. Russia has sought further control over the waters after the referendum in Crimea in 2014.

This news comes hours after CNN also revealed that the guided-missile destroyer U.S.S. McCampbellsailed through the Sea of Japan in defiance of Russian claims of the region. So the question remains, is this a joint military operation in progress?

A spokesman at the Navy’s 6th Fleet, which oversees operations in Europe and Africa, stated the U.S. Navy is “always prepared to respond when called.”

“We routinely conduct operations to advance security and stability throughout the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to include the international waters and airspace of the Black Sea. We reserve the right to operate freely in accordance with international laws and norms,” a spokesman for the 6th fleet, Cdr. Kyle Raines said.

Russian officials have expected a U.S. response to the ongoing dispute between Moscow and Ukraine. The chairman of the defense committee for the Russian State Duma, Vladimir Shamanov, stated on Wednesday that he expects “dirty tricks” from the U.S. in response to the ongoing dispute around the Kerch Strait. Shamanov further threatened legal action if the Trump administration follows through with any plans.

“They have a wide spectrum of options here,” Shamanov, said according to state news service TASS. Shamanov added the U.S. may block Russian ships from accessing ports or maneuvering freely, as he claimed American ships did to Russian vessels supporting operations in Syria. “There are rules of procedure that must be upheld, and the Americans, lovers of democracy and legitimacy, will definitely know that all corresponding prosecutorial and investigative activities will be carried out,” he said.

Just yesterday, Activist Post reported that after a NATO meeting, U.S. and NATO jointly told Russia to abide by the INF nuclear weapon treaty set up during the Cold War, while America has threatened to pull out of the treaty itself giving the country 60 days to comply with demands.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quoted stating:

“During this 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we’ll see what happens during this 60-day period,” he said.

“We’ve talked to the Russians a great deal. We’re hopeful they’ll change course, but there’s been no indication to date that they have any intention of doing so.”

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted by Interfax news agency stating that “Russia strictly abides by the provisions of the (INF) treaty, and the American side knows this.”

Vladimir Putin himself has said it is “too early” to return the Ukrainian sailors and naval vessels, accusing the Ukrainian government of provoking an incident as a distraction from its own domestic economic problems.

“We need to establish the fact that this was a provocation by the Ukrainian government and we need to put all these things on paper,” he added, arguing that the incident was part of a wider pattern of Ukrainian provocation.

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