A top U.S. admiral this week sent a Navy destroyer to the Black Sea to show solidarity with Ukraine after Russia and its behavior reportedly “irritated” him.
Adm. James Foggo, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, ordered the guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook to join Ukraine for exercises in the Black Sea as they anticipate another attack from Russia, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday.
Foggo is reportedly “irritated” with Russia’s “extremely bothersome” activities toward Ukraine – namely the incident in November 2018 when Russian ships rammed and fired upon Ukrainian vessels and captured 24 sailors who, remain in Russian detention today.
“Let me tell you, that irritates me to no end,” Foggo told reporters last week. “They are uniformed Ukrainian sailors and officers and chiefs. They’re not criminals, and they are being charged under a criminal code.”
#BREAKING #USSDonaldCook has begun its transit through the Dardanelles Strait on its way into the Black Sea for routine ops.
.#USNavy routinely operates in the #BlackSea consistent with the #MontreuxConvention & international law.
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (@USNavyEurope) February 19, 2019
“They should be protected under the Geneva Convention, which is why the United States and other NATO allies have come to the table and said ‘Release them immediately,’ and they still continue to hold them,” Foggo continued. “That is just absolutely wrong, and it is not the kind of behavior that you would expect from a major power — which Russia wants to be.”
“The whole episode in the Sea of Azov was extremely bothersome to me,” he added.
The USS Donald Cook’s deployment to the Black Sea is its second this year, Military Times reported. It is also considered a rare show of force toward Russia.
“Russian activity in the last year has become progressively more aggressive and restrictive,” Foggo said. “They’ve done it on purpose. It’s economic strangulation.”
America is sending a uniquely special message to Russia with the USS Donald Cook’s return to the Black Sea to deter Russian aggression against Ukraine.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) February 19, 2019
The destroyer will also make a port call in Mariupol, Ukraine. Russia has interfered with traffic to the port city by restricting access to the Sea of Azov.
“We’re showing solidarity,” Foggo noted.
A Navy statement said the USS Donald Cook’s presence in the Black Sea is intended for “maritime security operations and enhances regional maritime stability, combined readiness and naval capability with our NATO allies and partners in the region.”
An intelligence report in December 2018 determined that Russia was preparing a strike against Ukraine, evidenced by significant mobilization of troops and military equipment to its borders. The report warned that Russia may use military exercises as a guise for an attack.
Ukraine has also expressed concern of an impending Russian attack.
“Ukraine is under threat of full-scale war with Russia,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in late November 2018.