The Navy has deployed the guided-missile destroyer Carney to join the destroyer Ross in the Black Sea in a move that U.S. military officials told CNN is intended to “desensitize” Russia to the presence of American military assets in the strategically important region. The deployment of the Carney marks the first time in four years that two American destroyers have operated in the Black Sea outside of scheduled exercises.
The move comes as Russia continues to militarize Crimea, the peninsula it seized from Ukraine in 2014. In recent years, the U.S. and NATO have accused Russia of sending troops and military hardware to Crimea, and there are now reports that submarines have been added to the mix. Nevertheless, U.S. and NATO officials have insisted that they are not playing tit-for-tat with the Russians. “Our decision to have two ships simultaneously operate in the Black Sea is proactive, not reactive,” said Vice Adm. Christopher Grady, commander of 6th Fleet, which oversees U.S. naval operations in the region.