U.S. Backpedals on Sending Warships into the Black Sea
April 15 , 2021 (EIRNS)—The Pentagon never actually confirmed that it was sending two destroyers into the Black Sea this week, despite reports from Turkey last week that the U.S. had notified Ankara authorities of an impending passage through the Bosporus. Instead, the Defense Department’s imagery distribution service posted photographs of the USS Donald Cook and the USS Roosevelt, the two vessels earlier named by TASS as the ones scheduled to enter the Black Sea, arriving at the NATO base in Souda Bay, Crete. The caption accompanying the imagery reported that they arrived on April 14 “for a logistics and maintenance period,” possibly implying that they would be there for a few days.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed that the passage of the U.S. was canceled, but there were still three days to act on the existing notification.
“We were verbally told that the passage of the ships was cancelled. However, if they change their mind, they have three more days to use the previous notification and send the ships—the notification will still be valid. If the ships do not pass within three days, then they will again need to make a notification 15 days before the expected passage,”
Cavusoglu said, reported Sputnik.
The cancellation of the passage followed Russian warnings against U.S. ships approaching Crimea and the deployment of ships of the Russian Black Sea fleet, including vessels deployed from the Caspian Sea flotilla, on exercises of their own. The exercise, which included the frigate Admiral Makarov, two small missile ships, and other vessels, was to include live fire of artillery, according to a Russian Defense Ministry press release.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today that the U.S. decision not to send the two destroyers into the Black Sea does not mean the time is now to speak of détente around Ukraine. “Now the situation is very tense. As you know, there are a lot of military units from both NATO and the United States, which have been redeployed to our borders as part of various drills directly from the U.S. together with military equipment. Of course, in this situation any additional military components lead to another wave of tension,” Peskov told reporters. “So far, certainly, it is too early to say that the decision not to send two ships will somehow lead to a détente.”
At the same time that the U.S. has apparently chosen to avoid a possible confrontation with Russia in the Black Sea, the U.K. seems to have done the same thing with respect to China. The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is scheduled to depart Portsmouth in late May for a voyage to the Western Pacific. According to the Telegraph, the British government has decided to scrap its original plan for the carrier and its strike group to sail up the Taiwan Strait, and instead send them to the east of the island on their way to Japan from the South China Sea. While this decision has apparently not been officially announced, the war party in Britain, including Tory MPs and the Henry Jackson Society, are already up in arms about it. However, Admiral Lord West, the former first sea lord, opined, “I think it’s enough of a statement by going through the South China Sea,” he said. “You don’t need to rub people’s faces in it by traveling through the Formosa Strait.”