NATO increases naval presence in Black Sea

August 23rd, 2008 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Istanbul/Moscow, Aug 23 (RIA Novosti) NATO has sent a Polish frigate and a US destroyer through the Bosporus to boost its presence in the Black Sea, where it is delivering humanitarian cargoes to Georgia, a source in the Turkish Navy said. “Two more NATO ships passed through the strait and entered the Black Sea Friday evening,” the source said.

The Russian Navy was aware that NATO was strengthening its presence in the sea, deputy head of Russia’s General Staff Col Gen Anatoly Nogovitsyn told reporters Saturday.

“The situation in the Black Sea is escalating. NATO is continuing to build up its naval presence in the area,” he said.

Russia would continue its operations to ensure the security of shipping to and from Georgia’s separatist republic of Abkhazia, a Navy officer said Friday.

“The Black Sea fleet continues to carry out its task of maritime traffic security patrols off the coast of Abkhazia,” Captain Igor Dygalo said.

The ORP General Pulaski and the USS McFaul joined two ships from Germany and Spain that entered the sea earlier Friday.

The NATO presence in the Black Sea is expected to grow to about seven vessels, the Turkish Navy source said.

Nogovitsyn Friday expressed doubts that NATO vessels needed to be in the Black Sea, and he promised that Russia would respond swiftly to any provocations against its Black Sea Fleet.

Tensions between NATO and Russia are high following the recent conflict over Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia.

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