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Russia beefs up warship presence in Black Sea as Ukraine tensions simmer

  • Two Russian warships transited the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea on Saturday and 15 smaller vessels completed a transfer to the sea as Moscow beefs up its naval presence at a time of tense relations with the West and Ukraine.
  • The reinforcement coincides with a huge build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine, something Moscow calls a temporary defensive exercise, and follows an escalation in fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
  • Russia’s relations with Washington, which cancelled the deployment of two of its own warships to the Black Sea last week after fierce Russian protests, are at a post-Cold war low.
  • Moscow expelled 10 U.S. diplomats on Friday in retaliation for the expulsion of the same number of Russian diplomats from the United States over alleged malign activity.
  • Russia has also temporarily restricted the movement of foreign warships “and other state ships” near Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014, a move condemned by both Kyiv and Washington.
  • Two Russian Ropucha-class landing ships from Russia’s Northern Fleet, capable of carrying tanks and of delivering armour and troops during coastal assaults, transited the Bosphorus on Saturday, a Reuters reporter in Istanbul saw.
  • More Russian naval reinforcements in the form of two more landing ships, this time from Russia’s Baltic Fleet, are expected to imminently transit the Bosphorus.
  • The RIA news agency on Saturday also reported that 15 smaller vessels from Russia’s Caspian Flotilla have completed their transfer to the Black Sea as part of an exercise.
Tags: Current Affairs, International Relations

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