Russia expresses concern over U.S. warship Black Sea visit

Russia’s Foreign Ministry voiced concerns on Sunday over the entry of a U.S. guided missile cruiser into the Black Sea for naval exercises with Ukraine.

The Monterrey cruiser equipped with the AEGIS air defense system is taking part in the joint Ukrainian-U.S. naval exercises, Sea Breeze 2011.

“While leaving aside the unsettled issue of a possible European missile shield architecture, Russia would like to know, in compliance with the Russia-NATO Lisbon summit decisions, what ‘aggravation’ the U.S. command meant by moving the basic strike unit of the regional missile defense grouping being formed by NATO in the region, from the Mediterranean to the east,” the ministry said in a statement.

According to the ministry’s statement, Monterrey was sent to European waters as part of the U.S. administration’s phased adaptive approach to building the European segment of the global missile shield. The program’s first stage envisages the deployment of a group of U.S. warships in the Adriatic, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas to protect South Europe from possible missile strikes.

The U.S. says the warships can move to the Black Sea only in case of aggravation of the situation in the region.

“If this is an ordinary visit, then it is unclear why a warship with this type of armament was chosen to move to this quite sensitive region,” the statement said.

The role of the U.S. warship’s missiles in the Sea Breeze 2011 anti-piracy exercises is also unclear, the statement said.

Russia has said on many occasions that it will perceive the appearance of U.S. strategic infrastructure elements close to its borders as a threat to its security.

“We have to state that our concerns continue to be ignored and under the guise of talks on European missile shield cooperation, efforts are under way to build the missile shield configuration whose consequences are dangerous and about which we have numerously informed our U.S. and NATO partners,” the statement said.

This approach clearly discourages the work to jointly define the concept and the architecture for the future missile shield in Europe, on which the Russian and U.S. presidents agreed in Lisbon, the statement said.

MOSCOW, June 12 (RIA Novosti)

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