“Returning to the Black Sea and Odessa is a familiar mission,” said Peter Halvorsen, USS Carney commanding officer, according the US 6th Fleet website. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer last visited the area in June to participate in the Sea Breeze 2017 international exercises. Back then Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, was one of the guests aboard the vessel.
According to the US Navy, Carney’s return to Ukraine “demonstrates a shared commitment to promote security and stability within the region, while seeking opportunities to enhance interoperability with partners in the Black Sea.” The arrival of the warship came as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which saw an intensification of drills and an increase in the number of NATO troops near Russian borders in response to Moscow’s reunion with Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
Last year, US Navy destroyers carried out missions in Black Sea waters on an almost bimonthly basis. After Carney’s arrival in July, USS Porter patrolled the area in August, followed by USS Porter in November. The American ships are denied a permanent presence in the region by an international treaty, which allows only temporary and limited deployment in the area for nations with no access to the Black Sea.
Captain Tate Westbrook, who oversees the ships in the Naples-based 6th Fleet theater, told the Stars and Stripes website that “US ships will continue to enter the Black Sea and work with our allies and partners to ensure maritime security and stability.”
Russia has repeatedly criticized the presence of NATO warships in the Black Sea as well as the buildup of the US-led bloc’s forces near its borders, saying that it only increases tensions and puts Europe at risk of a military conflict.
The missions of Carney and other US and NATO vessels in the Black Sea are aimed at “putting Russia out of temper,” said Franz Klintsevich, the first deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security, according to Tass. “But why does the US need all this? It’s almost impossible to make Russian-American relations worse,” he added.