The United States is considering sending warships into the Black Sea in the next few weeks in a show of support for Ukraine amid Russia's increased military presence on Ukraine's eastern border, according to CNN.
The U.S. Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea, but a deployment of warships now would send a specific message to Moscow that the U.S. is closely watching, a U.S. defense official told CNN Thursday.
The U.S. is required to give 14 days notice of its intention to enter the Black Sea under a 1936 treaty giving Turkey control of the straits to enter the sea. It is unclear if a notice has yet been sent.
The Defense official also said the Navy is continuing to fly reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Black Sea to monitor Russian naval activity and any troops movements in Crimea.
Although the U.S. does not see the amassing of Russian forces as posturing for an offensive action, the official told CNN that "if something changes we will be ready to respond." Their current assessment is that the Russians are conducting training and exercises and intelligence has not indicated military orders for further action, the official said, but noted that they are well-aware that could change at any time.
Russian troops amassing along Ukraine's borders
- On March 30, 2021, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak said Russia had deployed 28 battalion tactical groups along the state border of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories. It is also said to be planning to bring up to 25 battalion tactical groups under the guise of preparing for military drills. Such actions pose a threat to Ukraine's military security.
- According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, enemy troops are reinforcing their advanced units with reconnaissance teams and sniper pairs, involving Russian army instructors in personnel training. Russia-led forces' artillery units are reportedly on full alert in certain districts, including villages and towns in occupied Ukrainian territory.
- On March 31, 2021, The New York Times reported Russia was pulling 4,000 troops to the border with Ukraine.
- Footage was shared on the Internet, showing a train with Russian military hardware en route along the Kerch Strait bridge to occupied Crimea.
- The U.S. European Command raised its alert status to the highest level after fighting had resumed between Russia-led forces and Ukrainian troops in Donetsk region.
- The U.S. Department of Defense said it was "aware of Russian troop movements" on Ukraine's borders and was concerned about recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.
- The United States, finding reports of Russian military movements on Ukraine's border credible, asked Moscow to explain the "provocations" and is ready to engage on the situation.