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The Biden administration is considering sending warships to the Black Sea in the next few weeks to counter an increased Russian military presence on Ukraine’s eastern border, according to a report Thursday.
An official from the Department of Defense told CNN that the Navy is flying reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Black Sea to monitor Russian naval movements.
They said that moving warships into the region would send a message of strength to Russia and put the Kremlin on notice that the US is monitoring the situation.
And “if something changes we will be ready to respond,” the official said.
Russia’s defense ministry announced that it was moving more than 10 vessels, including landing boats and artillery warships, from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea to take part in military exercises, Reuters reported.
Ukrainian military officials also said Russia has deployed tanks and armored vehicles near the border of eastern Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow can move its troops at its “discretion.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at a briefing on Wednesday noted that the US Navy routinely has ships in the Black Sea and the US has provided Ukraine with non-lethal and lethal weapons for its defense.
He also called on Moscow to “bring the temperature down, to de-escalate.”
Under a 1936 treaty giving Turkey control of the straits to enter the Black Sea, the US must give 14 days notice of its intent to move ships.
The Russian military buildup has alarmed European leaders and prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to call Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw the troops and de-escalate.
The Biden administration has joined with the international community in raising concerns over mounting tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
In recent weeks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Miller and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have all talked to their Ukrainian counterparts.
The Russian navy conducted artillery drills in the Black Sea and successfully struck targets on the coast of Crimea, the Russian news agency Tass reported Thursday.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, resulting in sanctions imposed by former President Barack Obama and the European Union.
With Post wires
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