The U.S. cancels the scheduled port call for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter DALLAS in the Georgian port of Poti, and shifts it to the safer port of Batumi, where 1 U.S. Arliegh Burke class Destroyer is already present. Meanwhile, Moscow has ordered the large cruiser MOSKVA back to the port of Poti. More from the Navy Times. This certainly raises the stakes again, as Russia is now questioning the presence of a NATO task force of ships which are also present in the Black Sea consisting of Spanish Turkish, and Polish vessels. Some senior Russian officials have also accused the U.S. of offloading supplies that are other than humanitarian, and possibly military. The U.S. has completely denied delivering anything but humanitarian supplies to Georgia.
U.S. warships bring aid to Georgia, fueling tensions with Russia
27/08/2008 16:52 TBILISI, August 28 (RIA Novosti) - A second United States naval vessel carrying humanitarian aid docked at the Georgian port of Batumi on Wednesday, amid Russian accusations that the ships are bringing arms to bolster the Georgian military.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas arrived at the port late in the morning, three days after the arrival of the U.S.S. McFaul destroyer. In an apparent response to the U.S. naval buildup, Russia sent a group of warships including the Moskva missile cruiser to the capital of Abkhazia, around 100 miles to the north of Batumi.
International media reports said the U.S. vessels had avoided arriving at the Poti port, due to Russia's military presence. Poti was a focus of Russia's recent 'peace enforcement' operation that followed Georgia's military offensive in South Ossetia, which along with Abkhazia was recognized as a new state by Russia on Tuesday.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said the U.S. ships are delivering weaponry for Georgia's armed forces, and has denied that Russian troops are still patrolling Poti.
"We are not controlling it, and are not blockading it - this is nonsense," he said in an interview with French TV channel TF1.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S. warships are raising tensions in the region.
"Battleships do not normally deliver aid, and this is gunboat diplomacy - it does not make the situation more stable," he said.
The U.S. cutter, carrying food and essential commodities, was sent after NATO announced its decision to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia following the end of hostilities between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia on August 12.
A Russian military intelligence source earlier told RIA Novosti that NATO warships currently stationed in the Black Sea are carrying over 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles between them. The Western military alliance began exercises in the sea on Friday involving U.S., German, Spanish and Polish vessels.
Lavrov said on Tuesday that "virtually all states that are supplying arms to Georgia are NATO member countries."
A senior Russian naval official said on Wednesday that measures are in place to prevent the smuggling of arms in the region.
"We are controlling territorial waters and the adjacent area, ensuring shipping safety, and preventing the smuggling of arms and military vehicles," Vice Adm. Sergei Menyailo, commander of the Novorossiisk naval base said.
Russia's General Staff said on Tuesday that there were 10 NATO ships in the Black Sea - three U.S. warships, the Polish frigate General Pulaski, the German frigate FGS Lubeck, and the Spanish navy ship Admiral Juan de Borbon, as well as four Turkish vessels.
Friday, August 29, 2008
USCGC Dallas - A Proud Old Coastie
I served aboard the Dallas in 1971 for 4 months as a deck hand before heading off to Electronics A school. Happy to see her alive, well and serving.