Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tensions heat up in Black Sea

Russian leader Vladimir Putin said that his country would respond to the presence of NATO battleships in the Black Sea basin.

Although quick to make clear that Russia's response would be calm and measured, he questioned the use of warships to deliver humanitarian aid. About half a dozen NATO ships are presently in the area and the US has ordered the USS Mount Whitney, a Blue Ridge class command ship and the flagship of the United States navy's 6th Fleet into the Black Sea.

Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia's deputy chief of the general staff, said that about 18 NATO vessels will be present in the Black Sea soon.

The Montreux Convention limits international traffic through Turkey's Bosporus and Dardanelles straits for countries that do not border the Black Sea. Istanbul refused to allow two US hospital ships passage through its straits because the country had passed its tonnage limit.

Russia did not specify what response it would make to the increased NATO naval presence, but it was reported that Moscow dispatched vessels to track the newly-arrived ships.

ABC News

Russian warning on Nato warships
Scotsman, United Kingdom - Aug 28, 2008
Four warships of Nato member Turkey are also in the Black Sea. Mr Putin's spokesman said: "The appearance of Nato battleships here in the Black Sea basin ...
Video: More US Aid Arrives in Georgia Amid Tension AssociatedPress
Western nations warn Russia to `change course' The Associated Press
Tension on the rise in Black Sea, Turkey stuck in the middle Hürriyet
Business Spectator - DEBKA file

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