Russia blasts U.S. Navy maneuvers near Georgia
Russia is outraged at the maneuvers of American USS Monterey cruiser carrying the AEGIS air defense system near the Georgian coast on the Black Sea, RIA Novosti quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying on Tuesday.
The U.S. warship arrived for joint exercises with Georgia as part of the Phased Adaptive Approach program designed to shape the European segment of the U.S.-led project to build a global missile defense system.
"The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier expressed concern that along with negotiations on cooperation in the global air defense system, [the U.S.] is conducting simultaneous 'reconnaissance' operations near the borders of our country," the ministry said.
Russia has been deeply concerned over U.S. plans to deploy a European air defense system near the Russian borders, saying it threatened its national security. Washington said it needed the system as a shield against possible threats from Iran or North Korea.
"And now this American warship has demonstratively entered the Georgian port of Batumi," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been complicated in the past decade. Russia has traditionally supported Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, while Georgia has been looking to join NATO. In 2008, Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war over the two breakaway Georgian republics, after which Russia recognized them both as being independent states.
"Whatever the explanations are, it is clear that the Georgian authorities will see the incident as encouragement for their ambitions for revenge against the Russian allies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which is unlikely to help stability in the region," the ministry said.
Russian diplomats said they expected a more constructive approach from U.S. authorities, which would help provide security in the South Caucasus and the Black Sea region as a whole and respect the interests of all local countries.