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Russia’s Navy began drills in the Black Sea on Wednesday amid growing tensions with Ukraine and ahead of the expected arrival of two U.S. warships in the area.
In recent weeks, tensions between Russia and Ukraine have escalated and so have those between Russia and NATO and the United States over the build-up of Russian troops in Crimea and along its border with Ukraine.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, raising the tensions between Russia and Ukraine and Russia and the West. The annexation led to the United States and the European Union imposing sanctions on Russia, including on some aspects and some firms in its oil and gas industry.
Now tensions are rising again, with another geopolitical heat-up not so far away from the perennial focal point of conflicts, the Middle East, which often moves oil prices up when tensions escalate.
Russia’s Black Sea fleet, based in Crimea, is now out on drills in the Black Sea, rehearsing firing at surface and air targets, Russian news agency TASS reported.
The drills begin days after NATO allies said two U.S. warships are due to arrive in the region and a day after U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.
In the call with Putin, “President Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions,” the White House said.
Secretary Blinken said that “We continue to support Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea.”
Today, Germany said that Russia was seeking “to provoke a reaction” with the build-up of troops along the border with Ukraine and in Crimea.
“My impression is that the Russian side is trying everything to provoke a reaction,” media quoted German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as telling German public broadcaster ARD.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,