- NATO Military Activity In the Black Sea!
At least as provocative as events inside Ukraine, is the deployment of NATO military assets into and around the Black Sea. As we have previously reported, the destroyer USS Donald Cook entered the Black Sea on April 10. The Donald Cook is equipped with the Aegis system, a critical component of the US-NATO ballistic missile defense system whose deployment Russia has publically denounced as a casus belli.
Russia Today reported on April 10 that the French intelligence ship Dupuy de Lome and the French destroyer Dupleix are expected to enter the Black Sea within the week and the French rescue vessel Alize has been in the Black Sea since late last month. A Russian military source told Interfax: “What we are seeing is that, for the first time since 2008, NATO is creating a naval battle group outside the Russian borders. The purpose of this is to provide moral support for the regime in Kiev, but also as a demonstration of power to make Russia come to heel. But the ship will also collect information on Russian military activity in Crimea and on the Ukrainian border.”
On Saturday, a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance aircraft was intercepted and shadowed by Turkish F-16’s for 3 1/2 hours as it flew 15-20 miles off Turkey’s Black Sea coast. While Russia and Turkey have historically had good relations, Russia has been pressuring the Turks with regard to the Montreux Convention, which regulates the presence of naval vessels from non-Black Sea nations in the Black Sea.
Finally, the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces test launched an RS-24 Yars ICBM, yesterday, from the Plesetsk space center. The missile was fired from a mobile launcher and the warhead landed in the Kamchatka peninsula. An SRF spokesman said: “The main task of the launch was to confirm the reliability of a batch of missiles manufactured at the Votkinsk plant, in Udmurtia.”
Though the test was undoubtedly planned long ago, the carrying of it out under the present circumstances is a message all its own.