Russian reports forced the American navy to release a video of Russian planes flying close to the USS Ross in the Black Sea in order to prove it was only a “routine encounter.” Russia previously claimed America acts “aggressively” in the Black Sea and told world officials they can plant nukes anywhere in their territory, including Crimea.
The Russian media declared the air force sent out “a flight of six of its Su-24 ‘Fencer’ strike fighters” because the US missile destroyer USS Ross entered “territorial waters.”
“The crew of the ship acted provocatively and aggressively, which concerned the operators of monitoring stations and ships of the Black Sea Fleet,” claimed an anonymous source. “Su-24 attack aircraft demonstrated to the American crew readiness to harshly prevent a violation of the frontier and to defend the interests of the country.”
However, the video clearly shows the destroyer in international waters, 25 miles away from Crimea, when the planes flew next to the ship.
“The US navy operates routinely in the Black Sea, in accordance with international law,” explained Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
Cold War tensions exploded in February 2014 after Ukraine ousted Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, Moscow invaded Crimea and conquered it from Ukraine, and Russian troops entered east Ukraine to help pro-Russians fight against the new government. Over 6,000 people died in the past year.
Russian Foreign Ministry’s arm-control chief Mikhail Ulyanov first mentioned placing nuclear weapons in Crimea in March. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin reminded Ulyanov the move would break international law.
“The messages from the Russian side about the sheer possibility is a complete breach of international obligations,” he stated.
Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), five countries, including Russia, may plant “nuclear weapons anywhere in its territory.” However, the United Nations and NATO still consider Crimea a part of Ukraine. In May, NATO lashed out against Russia’s buildup in Crimea. They also repeated to Moscow that none of them recognize their annexation of Crimea.
“We condemn Russia’s ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up in Crimea and are concerned by Russia’s efforts and stated plans for a further military build up in the Black Sea region,” they wrote in a statement.
But now Russia added more fuel to the fire by insisting they have every right to place nuclear weapons in Crimea.
“Russia certainly has the right to deploy, if necessary, nuclear weapons anywhere on its national territory, including the Crimean Peninsula,” stated Ulyanov on Monday.
The Defense Ministry told state-run media there are no plans to put nukes in Crimea, but it will “relocate 10 Tu-22M3 nuclear-capable bombers to the peninsula.” The ministry will arm the bombers “with conventional” missiles instead of nukes.