The American warship USS Truxtun headed to the Black Sea this week to take part in "routine" training exercises with allied forces that the Navy insists have no connection to the crisis in Ukraine.
The missile destroyer, which deployed from the U.S. last month, departed Greece this week for the Black Sea to participate in exercises with the Romanian and Bulgarian navies "for an unspecified period of time, conducting joint maneuvers and landing aircraft on ships," military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported.
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USS Truxtun will remain in the Mediterranean region for several days before moving on to the Middle East, the newspaper noted.
The Navy stressed that the training exercises were planned in advance of the brewing tensions in Ukraine.
"While in the Black Sea, the ship will conduct a port visit and routine, previously planned exercises with allies and partners in the region," the Navy said in a statement. "Truxtun's operations in the Black Sea were scheduled well in advance of her departure from the United States."
The only other U.S. warship currently deployed in the Black Sea is the USS Taylor, which is undergoing repairs after running aground last month
trying to dock at a Turkish port.
The U.S. also dispatched six F-15 fighter jets to Lithuania this week to "bolster air patrols over the Baltics," The Associated Press reported.
The international community likely sees this U.S. action as a "symbolic message to Moscow" as America and its Western allies gear up to levy sanctions at Russia for sending troops into Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, Agence France-Presse noted.
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