The United States is preparing to send a warship into the Black Sea in response to Russian seizure of Ukrainian vessels and sailors, a decision that could lead to further heightened tensions in the region.
The Pentagon has asked the State Department to inform the Turkish government of its plan to possibly send a warship into those disputed waters, and has said that the move would be in response to Moscow’s aggression towards Ukraine.
Those measures were carried out in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. CNN was first to report the news that the US is considering sending a ship into the Black Sea.
The potential movement of the warship came just after the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the Ukrainian government of undertaking “active preparations” for an offensive against Russia in the eastern portion of the Ukrainian peninsula.
The ministry indicated that the recent declaration in parts of Ukraine was being used as cover for those preparations.
Should the US send a Navy warship into the Black Sea, the move would dramatically increase the possibility of military interactions between Russia, the US, and Ukraine, which the American military has supported ever since the Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014.
The State Department must notify the Turkish government before a warship can pass through the straits in accordance with the Montreux Convention, which was ratified in 1936 and governs the movement of military vessels through the Dardanelles and Bosporus, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea.
A State Department spokesperson told CNN that “the United States carries out its activities consistent with the terms of the Montreux Convention. We will not, however, comment on the nature of our diplomatic correspondence with the Government of Turkey".
The potential relocation of the warship follows after a different US military exercise in the Sea of Japan that saw a Navy ship come close to contested waters in the Sea of Japan on Wednesday.
It was expected the the mission would upset Russia, and was performed in order to challenge Russian claims to waters in the area that are used by the US and other countries to move goods.