Russian naval assets of Caspian flotilla enters Black Sea amid the tension with Ukraine

Shmel-class gunboat (Credit: Russian MoD)

Russia has been reinforcing its military power near Ukraine’s east borders due to the rising crisis in Donbas. There are many videos of both sides that they have been shifting land forces on the borders.

The Russian Ministry of Defence announced that approximately fifteen naval assets of the Russian Caspian Flotilla, including Project 11770 Serna-class landing crafts and Project 1204 Shmel-class armoured gunboats via Rostov-on-Don. The Ministry stated that the ships’ transition aims to conduct a control check of the vessels in the winter period. The ships deployed to the Azov Sea which is very close to Ukraine.

“By order of the commander of the Southern Military District, General of the Army Alexander Dvornikov, units of the marines and coastal forces of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla were involved in checking the readiness to repel sea and air assault forces.

The control check of the Southern Military District troops during the winter training period is carried out according to the approved troop training plan for 2021 and is aimed at increasing the level of combat and operational training of troops and forces of the military district, improving the forms and methods of conducting exercises and training, taking into account the evolving situation within the boundaries of responsibility.” says the Ministry in the press release.

The U.S. seems confident to support Ukraine

Serna-class landing crafts passing the waterway

Meanwhile, The United States is considering sending warships into the Black Sea in the next few weeks in a show of support for Ukraine amid Russia’s increased military presence on Ukraine’s eastern border.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Roosevelt (DDG-80) and USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) will pass through the Bosphorus and enter the increasingly troubled region on April 14 and 15 and leave on May 4 and May 5.

Washington is required to give Ankara at least 15 days’ notice before sending warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits under the terms of the 1936 Montreux Convention. The treaty’s terms allow foreign warships to stay in the Black Sea for 21 days.

Turkey seems in a very critical position in this conflict. Russia requires all states to adhere to the Montreux Convention. Russian President Putin underscored the importance of the Montreux Convention in a phone call with the Turkish President.

The 1936 Convention, signed in Montreux, Switzerland, cements Turkey’s sovereignty over Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and stipulates free pass of trade ships through the straits while significantly limiting access of the non-Black Sea states’ military ships.

USS Roosevelt (DDG-80) en route to the Black Sea in October 2020.
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