Recent NATO military maneuvers near Russian borders have led President Vladimir Putin to strengthen his nation’s defense network.
“Even now, a U.S. warship has entered the Black Sea, and we can see it in binoculars or crosshairs of our defense systems,” Putin said in a Monday meeting with Russian military officials and arms makers.
The U.S. 6th Fleet said in a statement their mission will help “further enhance collaboration between U.S. and NATO forces at sea.”
“NATO allies and partners stand together to ensure a safe, stable and secure Black Sea region, building partner capacity to improve effectiveness and interoperability,” the statement read.
After ending their mission with NATO and closing their alliance offices, Russia has increased its scrutiny over NATO deployment near its borders, seeing it as a threat to security, the Associated Press reported.
Russia and the alliance continue to accuse each other of making potentially dangerous military movements.
U.S. and Russia relations have also faltered because of U.S.’ public and continued support of Ukraine sovereignty due to Russia’s ongoing occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
In June, Russia said one of its warships fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs in the path of British destroyer Defender to drive it away from Black Sea waters near the Crimean city of Sevastopol. Britain denied that account, insisted its ship wasn’t fired upon and said it was sailing in Ukrainian waters.
Like most of the world, Britain recognizes Crimea as part of Ukraine despite the peninsula’s 2014 annexation by Russia. In the aftermath of the incident, Moscow warned that it is prepared to target intruding warships if they fail to heed warnings.
“We must further improve our air and space defense system as leading powers have been developing prospective high-speed strike weapons,” Putin said. “It’s also warranted by the military-political situation, including increasingly intensive flights by NATO aircraft near Russia and the appearance of the alliance’s warships armed with guided missiles in the Baltic and Black Seas.”