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Putin warns of US navy threat
By John Helmer

MOSCOW - On Thursday President Vladimir Putin described NATO missile batteries aimed at Russia's Black Sea coastline as threatening the nuclear defences of southwestern Russia. It was the first time the president or Russian defence officials have put Crimea into Russian strategic survival doctrine.

US Navy deployment in the Black Sea of ships armed with Aegis missiles is one of the concrete threats Putin was referring to. This has made the current Black Sea cruise of the USS Donald Cook, an Aegis-armed destroyer, of special importance. It is the reason

a Russian military aircraft buzzed the Cook as it steamed towards Constanta port, in Romania.

It is also the reason why, as Putin was speaking in Moscow, the Cook pulled away from the Constanta dock, setting a course to the southeast from Constanta towards Georgia and Turkey, and not a northward course towards Odessa. In that Ukrainian port, public demonstrations against a port call by the Cook have been under way for several days.

US Navy deployments inside the Black Sea are now consecutive, one vessel arriving as another leaves, since February 2, when the USS Mount Whitney passed through the Bosphorus, the Turkish straits, guarded by the frigate, the USS Taylor. The Mount Whitney is a floating headquarters for NATO strike forces aimed at Russia from Romania to Hungary and Poland. It had sailed into the Georgian port of Poti in September of 2008 as Russian air, ground and naval forces surrounded the port. More ...

John Helmer has been a Moscow-based correspondent since 1989, specializing in the coverage of Russian business. His writing can be found on his Dances With Bears blog.

(Copyright 2014 John Helmer)




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