Russia reportedly increases military strength in the Black Sea

Russia continued to increase its military presence in the Black Sea over the weekend, when two more warships and 15 smaller vessels moved to the waterway amid increased tensions between Washington and Moscow.

The two Russian ships, capable of carrying tanks and armored vehicles, as well as coastal assault troops, traveled across the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey on Saturday, Reuters reported.

More naval reinforcements – including landing vessels from the Baltic fleet – are expected to arrive in the Black Sea in the coming days to support the thousands of soldiers and armored vehicles already stationed near Russia’s eastern border with Ukraine.

The Biden administration last Thursday eliminated the sending of two US warships to the Black Sea after the Kremlin warned of the “stay away for its own sake” deployment.

The Russian Navy's Caspian Flotilla landing vessels are photographed on the River Don during the movement between the Caspian Sea fleets to the Black Sea.
The Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla landing vessels are photographed on the River Don during the movement between the Caspian Sea fleets to the Black Sea.
REUTERS / Sergey Pivovarov

The turnaround came just before the White House sanctioned Russia for its interference in the 2020 presidential election and the SolarWinds hack that infiltrated the computers of hundreds of government agencies and private sector companies.

A senior government official said the government did not want the already tense situation in the region to “get out of hand”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the sanctions by expelling 10 US diplomats and threatening to take further retaliatory action as part of the clash between the two superpowers.

The Russian Navy Ropucha class landing ship, Kaliningrad, set sail in the Bosphorus.
The Russian Navy’s Ropucha-class landing ship, Kaliningrad, sets sail through the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea.
REUTERS / Murad Sezer

Putin also cut off access to foreign warships until the fall of the Kerch Strait last week.

The strait links Russia to Crimea, which Putin illegally annexed in 2014, sparking a round of sanctions by the United States and its European allies.

Since then, fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatist troops has killed thousands.

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