The Biden government is considering sending warships to the Black Sea in the coming weeks to contain the increased Russian military presence on Ukraine’s eastern border, according to a report on Thursday.
A Defense Department official told CNN that the Navy is flying reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Black Sea to monitor Russian naval movements.
They said moving warships into the region would send a message of strength to Russia and alert the Kremlin that the United States is monitoring the situation.
And “if something changes, we will be ready to respond,” said the official.
Russia’s defense ministry announced it was moving more than 10 vessels, including landing craft and artillery warships, from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea to participate in military exercises, Reuters reported.
Ukrainian military officials also said that Russia had deployed tanks and armored vehicles near the border with eastern Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow could move its troops at its “discretion”.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, at a briefing on Wednesday, noted that the U.S. Navy routinely owns ships in the Black Sea and the United States has provided Ukraine with non-lethal and lethal weapons for its defense.
He also asked Moscow to “lower the temperature, decrease the escalation”.
Under a 1936 treaty giving Turkey control of the straits to enter the Black Sea, the United States must notify its intention to move ships 14 days in advance.
The Russian military escalation alarmed European leaders and prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw troops and slow the escalation.
The Biden government joined the international community to raise concerns about rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
In recent weeks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs President Mark Miller and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have talked to their Ukrainian colleagues.
The Russian navy conducted artillery exercises in the Black Sea and hit targets off the coast of Crimea, Russian news agency Tass reported on Thursday.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014, resulting in sanctions imposed by former President Barack Obama and the European Union.