The US Destroyer Truxtun arrived in the Black Sea near the Ukraine where recent local deadly clashes among local rivals has attracted Russian troops. Now US troops are being relocated to the region. Earlier this past week, the US sent 12 F-16 fighter aircraft and 300 troop to Poland for a “training exercise” in response to the Ukraine crisis. A few days prior to this, the US sent six F-15 fighters and a KC-130 in-air refueling aircraft to Lithuania to join air patrols in the Baltic States.
The Russian government-funded RT news network charged that the Truxtun’s presence during the Ukraine and Crimea crisis was part of a U.S. buildup in support of Ukraine. Citing previous U.S.-Russian naval faceoffs in the Black Sea, RT reported that the “American battleship is highly unlikely to get anywhere near the Crimea shores, let alone Sevastopol, without a risk of repeating a hasty exit.” in a reference to a 1988 incident with the Yorktown and Caron US naval ships side-swiped by Russian ships which caused minor damage.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the surrounding troops as Crimean “self-defense forces.” The U.S. has estimated that at least 20,000 Russian troops are in Crimea. U.S. leaders have described any attempt to annex Crimea as illegal, but in a Kremlin statement Sunday, Putin said the referendum was “based on international law and aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the peninsula’s population.”
In Kiev, acting Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh issued a list of locations in Crimea where Russian forces were blockading Ukrainian forces.