GeriGündem Russia queries necessity of U.S. humanitarian operation in Black Sea
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Russia queries necessity of U.S. humanitarian operation in Black Sea

Russian Military said Friday the need for a U.S. Navy humanitarian operation in the Black Sea is "extremely dubious", as a U.S. Navy warship entered Turkey's Cannakkale Strait, also known as the Dardanelles, transporting relief supplies to Georgia. (UPDATED)

A senior military official queried on Friday the merits of a U.S. Navy operation in the Black Sea.

"From the Russian point of view... The usefulness of this operation is extremely dubious," Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian military's General Staff was quoted by Reuters as saying when asked about a U.S. warship due to deliver humanitarian supplies to Georgia.

His remarks came as the U.S. destroyer McFall entered Turkey's Dardanelle Strait.

NATO-member Turkey earlier authorized the three U.S. ships to sail through the Turkish straits into the Black Sea.

The USS McFall is expected to arrive in Georgia via the Black Sea in about two days and will be followed by two other U.S. ships within a week, officials said.

"The USS McFall is under way now, having taken on humanitarian supplies for the people of Georgia," the spokesman said.

It will be the first U.S. humanitarian mission via the sea to Georgia since the start of the conflict o Aug. 8, when Russia sent forces into Georgia to repel an attack on the Moscow-backed separatist region of South Ossetia that Tbilisi had started the day before.

The U.S. destroyer McFall would be followed by the coast guard cutter Dallas and the command ship USS Mount Whitney.

The Pentagon said Thursday Russia has been informed about the passages. "The Russians have been informed along the way about our activities and our intentions," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

A Polish navy ship also passed through the Dardanelles on Friday.

The Polish vessel, General Plasky, informed Turkish officials that its destination was the Romanian seaport of Constanta, state-run Anatolian Agency reported.

NATO warships, which passed through Istanbul's Bosporus Strait Thursday, entered the Black Sea for long-planned exercises and routine visits to ports in Romania and Bulgaria, the alliance said.

Three warships - from Spain, Germany and Poland - sailed into the Black Sea on Thursday.

The move is not linked to the tensions over Russia's invasion of Georgia, which lies on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, about 900 kilometers (550 miles) from the Romanian coast, said officials at NATO's military command in southern Belgium.

They are "conducting a pre-planned routine visit to the Black Sea region to interact and exercise with our NATO partners Romania and Bulgaria, which is an important feature of our routine planning," said Vice-Adm. Pim Bedet, deputy commander at allied maritime headquarters in Northwood, England.

However, the move risks increasing tensions with Russia which has deployed ships from its Black Sea fleet to the Georgian coast.

The NATO flotilla includes Spain’s SPS Adm. Juan de Bourbon, Germanys FGS Luebeck and the Polish ship ORP General K Pulaski.
Turkey said Friday the four military ships sailed through the Turkish straits into the Black Sea under the Montreux Convention.

Turkey governs international transit through the Turkish straits under the 1936 Montreux Convention that sets weight limits of vessels to pass through the straits.

The four military ships from Spanish, German, Polish and U.S. navies sailed through the straits within the framework of a NATO exercise in line with notifications made to Turkey under the Montreux Convention, Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"In this context, four ships from Spain (SPS Almirante Don Juan de Borbon), Germany (FGS Luebeck), Poland (ORP General Kazimierz Pulaski) and United States (USS Taylor) that are in NATO Standing Maritime Group, will visit ports of Romania's Constanta, Bulgaria's Varna and Turkey's Istanbul in the Black Sea as part of NATO planned activities approved in October 2007," it said.


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