A U.S. Navy destroyer is currently operating in the Black Sea after a port stop in Bulgaria, as tensions between the U.S. and Russia simmer.
USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) moved through the Bosphorus, arriving in the Black Sea on Thursday, U.S. 6th Fleet said in a news release last week.
The destroyer made a stop in Varna, Bulgaria, leaving the port on Sunday to continue operating in the waters, 6th Fleet said in a separate news release issued on Monday.
“From the Arctic, to the Baltic, to the Black Sea, USS Arleigh Burke has proven that we are capable of deploying anywhere at any time,’ Cmdr. Patrick Chapman, the destroyer’s commanding officer, said in the Monday news release. “We are thrilled to play a role in strengthening our relationship with NATO allies and partners and look forward to continued cooperation.”
Russia’s navy is tracking the American destroyer, state-run Tass News Agency reported last week.
USS Arleigh Burke DDG51 replaces USS Donald Cook DDG75 as 1 of 4 #FDNF located in Rota, Spain: @USNavyEurope’s Arleigh Burke class AEGIS guided missile destroyer #USSArleighBurke transited Bosphorus & entered the #BlackSea to operate with @NATO allies & partners #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/kIuaPZVewX
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) November 25, 2021
The destroyer’s movement into the waters comes as Russia has moved troops to its border with Ukraine. The president of Ukraine on Friday voiced concern over a potential coup led by Russia, a claim that a Russian government spokesperson has denied, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Monday declined to comment on how many Russian troops are near the Ukrainian border, but said the Pentagon is monitoring the movements.
“We’ve been watching with great concern these movements for a while now. And I think we all have a shared understanding of the importance of what we’re seeing and concern about the potential. I don’t want to again speak to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s intentions because, as you heard the secretary say, we just don’t know what he’s up to. But it is of continued concern here at the Pentagon and across the administration. So again, we’re watching this closely,” Kirby said.
“We continue to see movement. We continue to see additions to their forces. And as I described I think before the Thanksgiving holiday, these are units of a combined nature. I mean, it’s various different types of units that continue to collect on, or not on, but near the Ukrainian border,” he added.
Two other U.S. warships – USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) and USS Porter (DDG-78) – operated in the Black Sea earlier this month.
Arleigh Burke officially joined the Forward Deployed Naval Force-Europe (FDNF-E) stationed in Naval Station Rota, Spain in April.