At a time of still heightened tensions following this month's Russian military build-up near Ukraine and subsequent draw down last week, the Kremlin says it is tracking a US Coast Guard ship's movements after it entered the Black Sea on Tuesday.
The US Navy's Sixth Fleet confirmed the entrance, saying "The Legend-class national security cutter USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) transited into the Black Sea in support of NATO Allies and partners."
HAPPENING NOW: USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) transited into the Black Sea in support of @NATO Allies and partners.— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet (@USNavyEurope) April 27, 2021
Hamilton is the first @USCG Cutter to visit the #BlackSea since 2008.
Full story: https://t.co/tQa4z6hiYQ pic.twitter.com/chPAmeJpCq
While American warships routinely transit the Black Sea, the Navy statement underscored that the Coast Guard's entrance into the Black Sea is a rarity. Certainly the US Coast Guard is operating a very long way from America's coastal waters.
"Hamilton is the first U.S. Coast Guard Cutter to visit the Black Sea since 2008," the statement said. The Hamilton was sent from its most recent area of operation near Sixth Fleet headquarters in Naples, Italy.
In no doubt a planned signal that the US should stay away from Crimea, Russia's Black Sea fleet launched new "live-fire" drills on the same day as the Hamilton's entering the region:
Russia’s Black Sea fleet said on Tuesday its Moskva cruiser would hold live-fire drills with other ships and military helicopters, the Interfax news agency reported.
The fleet’s announcement came hours after US Naval Forces in Europe said cutter Hamilton, a US Coast Guard vessel, was moving into the Black Sea to work with NATO allies and partners in the region.
Earlier in the month the Biden administration canceled plans to send a pair of large naval warships into the Black Sea, in an apparent bid to de-escalate soaring tensions, after which he proposed a face-to-face summit with Vladimir Putin.
Russia on Monday signaled it will likely take place in mid-June in a European country, while the White House is reportedly hammering out details in a positive sign it's very likely to happen.
Hawks accused Biden of capitulating to Moscow, so perhaps sending a tiny Coast Guard ship is a meager effort at showing that he's "doing something" to "confront" Russia over Ukraine.