Russia’s Foreign Ministry has voiced serious concerns about a US warship now coming close to its shores in the Black Sea, while the US regards it as an integral part of its plans to create a missile shield in Europe, which Russia opposes.
The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey is now taking part in annual joint military exercises conducted by NATO and Ukraine just off Russian shores. The Sea Breeze-2011 navy training is hosted by Ukraine and is joint drills for the Ukrainian and US Navy with the invited representatives of other countries.
On Sunday, Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it will not leave unnoticed any elements of US strategic infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of its borders and will consider any such steps as a threat to the country’s security.
"Surprises, already emerging at the first stage in the implementation of the American 'adaptive approach' points to a high level of strategic uncertainty, which the American missile defense system is creating," the Foreign Ministry said. "Still, more justifiable is the question about how reliable the verbal assurances are that it is not targeted against Russia."
Russia agreed to consider NATO's proposal late in 2010 to cooperate on the missile shield, but insisted the system be run jointly. NATO rejected that demand and no compromise has been found yet. Meanwhile, without waiting for an agreement with Russia, the US is setting up its missile defense system in Europe. Poland and Romania have already agreed to deploy AMD elements on their territory, and Bulgaria and Turkey may follow.
"Setting aside the remaining not agreed issues related to the architecture of the proposed European missile shield in compliance with the resolutions of the Russia-NATO Lisbon summit, it remains unclear what 'deterioration' the American command meant when it moved the backbone strike unit of the NATO territorial missile defense component currently under formation from the Mediterranean to the east," the statement says.
"If a routine 'visit' to this extremely sensitive region is the issue, why was a warship with this particular type of weaponry chosen? What role was reserved for the Monterey's anti-missiles in the scenario of the Sea Breeze 2011 drill, during which 'an anti-pirate operation by NATO standards' was exercised?" the Foreign Ministry stresses.
Most of the political experts in Russia regard the unexpected emergence of the US warship in the Black Sea as a challenge to US-Russia relations.
“It’s an obvious challenge to the negotiations, which are underway between the countries, as well as to the logic of the US-Russia relations, described by the word ‘reset,’” Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee told Rusnovosti news radio channel.