For the first time since Moscow’s murderous tyrant, Vladimir Putin, invaded Ukraine almost a year ago, a US Navy warship entered the Black Sea, the nearly isolated pond whose littoral states include Russia, its victim, and three US allies in NATO.
Russia-Ukraine War Has Raged in the Black Sea
Russians managed to destroy the Ukrainian navy in the Black Sea and the adjacent, smaller Azov Sea in the first hours after Russia invaded. Yet, both basins have seen extensive naval warfare.
Ukrainian defenders managed to use land-launched rockets and drones to attack the Russian Black Sea Fleet. They have already destroyed or severely damaged 18 Russian vessels. That includes the sinking of the Moskva (“Moscow”), the once much dreaded Russian flagship cruiser, last April.
The Black Sea is connected with the Mediterranean and the world ocean only through the narrow Turkish Straits. Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, the presence of outside warships in the Black Sea is limited to three weeks. Turkey has the right to close the straits for foreign naval vessels during war.
The Turks have already exercised that right by preventing Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean from entering the Black Sea and joining in the attack on Ukraine.
Besides Russia and Ukraine, the other basin (littoral) countries of the Black Sea are US allies and NATO alliance members Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey, plus Georgia.
The latter is a NATO hopeful invaded by Russia in 2008 in a rehearsal for the 2014 and 2022 invasions of Ukraine, but whose current leadership is presently pro-Moscow oriented.
The USS Nitze, a US Navy destroyer, has now been noticed operating in the Black Sea, according to a report by The Jerusalem Post.
It has thus become the first US naval vessel to enter the sea involved in the Russia-Ukraine war and also the American warship to openly come the closest to the Russian shores.
The USS Nitze destroyer has now been seen operating in the Black Sea as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group as part of the Sixth Fleet of the US Navy, which patrols the Mediterranean.
Merhaba 👋, Gölcük 🇹🇷!@usnavy destroyer #USSNitze (DDG 94), attached to the @GHWBCVN77, arrived to the Turkish port of Gölcük for a scheduled port visit, Feb. 3, 2023.
For more: https://t.co/isohZm8iHK#StrongerTogether 🇹🇷🇺🇸
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet (@USNavyEurope) February 5, 2023
An US ship approached the Black Sea for the first time since the start of the conflict in Ukraine.
USS Nitze made a 'port of call' in Istanbul.
The US destroyer USS Nitze (DDG-94) entering the Bosphorus Strait, February 3, 2023. Photo Source: Twitter, Yöruk Işik. pic.twitter.com/TB7fLAaazV
— Daniel Andrey (@Andrey_Daniel_B) February 4, 2023
US #destroyer NITZE DDG94 arriving at Istanbul, Turkey the morning of 3 Feb – 1st visit by a US warship to Istanbul & closest US Navy warship approach to the Black Sea since the 24 Feb 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Photos via Cem Devrim Yaylalı/Bosphorus Naval News on FB pic.twitter.com/7M54CRzTNZ
— Chris Cavas (@CavasShips) February 3, 2023
Focus on Turkey, Rather Than Russia
The USS Nitze entered the Black Sea and visited US ally Turkey on February 3, as confirmed by the Sixth Fleet’s Twitter account. Meanwhile, other parts of the strike group arrived in the Mediterranean port of Piraeus in Greece, another US ally.
The USS Nitze, the last US warship to be present in the Black Sea, did so in December 2021. Jeff Flake, the US Ambassador to Turkey, and Julie Eadeh, the US Consulate General to Istanbul, spent several hours on the destroyer.
The US Ambassador to Turkey, Jeff Flake, and the US Consulate General to Istanbul, Julie Eadeh, visited the ship for several hours.
The ambassador did not mention the Russia – Ukraine war in connection with the visit, saying it was a chance to boost the NATO relationship between the US and Turkey.
In a news release published by the US Sixth Fleet, Flake praised Turkey as a “highly valued ally,” even as the Turkish leadership has been maintaining relations with Putin and seeking to “play the field” on its own on many world politics matters.
Turkey has indeed been lending various types of support to Ukraine, while refusing to join western sanctions against Russia.
The US government recently warned Turkey over its exports to Russia, which apparently include badly needed microchips and chemicals that Putin’s regime uses to fuel its war effort in Ukraine.
In another deplorable development, Turkey has been blocking Sweden and Finland from joining the US-led NATO alliance. It demands that the Swedes surrender to its immigrant members of the Kurdish minority in Turkey fighting for independence.
Give Ukraine a couple of German submarines to take care of the "mighty" Russian Black Sea Fleet — in the footsteps of Russian flagship Moskva pic.twitter.com/dnLrIzrkNA
— 🇺🇸 Dr. Vitaly Lyaskovsky, M.D. 🇺🇦 (@LyaskovskyD) February 4, 2023
These are the indicative estimates of Russia’s combat losses as of Feb. 7, according to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/EkGgw6Wrmc
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) February 7, 2023