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Iran Press TV

Russia calls on US to 'stop reckless saber-rattling' in Black Sea

Iran Press TV

Friday, 12 February 2021 8:41 AM

Russia has censured the presence of the US navy as part of a joint drill with Turkish forces in the Black Sea, calling on the United States to "stop reckless saber-rattling" in the region.

The two NATO allies conducted joint naval exercises in the Black Sea on Tuesday, with the drills hosting two US destroyers, USS Porter and USS Donald Cook accompanied by two Turkish frigates and two Turkish F-16 jets as well as one US maritime patrol aircraft.

The joint naval drills prompted Russia, which has large navy bases in the Black Sea, to criticize the presence of the US navy in the region as "saber-rattling" and said the war games were a pretext for Washington to increase its military presence there.

"We call on the US military to stop reckless saber-rattling and mind their business in the territorial waters of the United States. The peace and security of the Black Sea need no alien interference," the Russian embassy in the US wrote on its Twitter account on Thursday.

"It looks like the US 6th Fleet can't wait to find an enemy in the Black Sea. It desperately looks for a pretext - now openly under the banner of warfare exercise - for ramping up presence in the region," it added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has on several occasions maintained that the military presence of "off-region nations' warships" in the Black Sea cannot promote stability in the region.

The United States claims it acts under the Montreux international convention with regard to the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits, and conducts drills in international waters. American bombers and spy planes, as well as NATO aircraft, have also been frequently detected in the vicinity of Russia's borders in recent years.

Ukraine plans Black Sea bases

Ukraine also announced that it was moving forward with plans to build two new naval bases in the Black Sea region, which is expected to see greater US military and NATO presence in the year ahead.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at the NATO headquarters in Brussels that one base would be built along the Black Sea and the other in the Sea of Azov.

The United Kingdom is "helping us financially" and work on the projects will begin soon, Shmyhal added.

The Sea of Azov, a linked waterway that has been a flashpoint between Russia and Ukraine, witnessed escalated tensions between the two in 2018 when Russian forces were claimed to have opened fire on Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea's Kerch Strait and captured a number of sailors.

Moreover, relations between Moscow and the US and the rest of Europe have particularly deteriorated since 2014 when the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea rejoined Russia following a referendum where more than 90 percent of participants voted in favor of the move. The West brands the reunification as the annexation of Ukrainian land by Russia.

Siding with Ukraine, the European Union has followed Washington's lead in leveling several rounds of sanctions against Moscow.

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