Russia calls US Black Sea naval patrols ‘potential threat’
Russia’s defense ministry said on March 28 it regarded U.S. naval patrols in the Black Sea as a potential threat to its safety because it was unclear what kind of missiles the ships were carrying, the RIA news agency reported.
“Ballistic missile defense ships patrolling the Black and Baltic seas are a threat to the facilities of the European part of Russia because there is uncertainty over which weapons are currently loaded onto launchers: interceptor missiles or cruise missiles,” Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir said.
Poznikhir said at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that the possibility of using ground versions in Romania and Poland of ship-based launchers to deploy Tomahawk cruise missiles directly violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty).
“An equally serious threat to Russian and Chinese security is the strike potential of ballistic missile defense groups. US Navy cruisers and destroyers equipped with interceptor missiles are simultaneously carriers of Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of up to 2,500 kilometers,” he said, according to RIA.
A US amphibious dock landing ship Carter Hall entered the Black Sea last week to participate in bilateral exercises with Romania.
“The ship is deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the US 6th Fleet area of operations,” the the U.S. Navy press release stated on March 23.The 6th Fleet is participating in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military buildup in Eastern Europe amid tensions with Russia that developed after a 2013 coup in Ukraine.
Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014, has its own Black Sea Fleet based at Sevastopol.