Fifteen warships of the Russian Caspian flotilla are heading to the Black Sea “for exercises”, reported the Russian agency Interfax with reference to the press service of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation.
According to the Russian military, 8 landing ships, 3 artillery boats and support vessels from the Caspian Flotilla will carry out post-winter readiness checks.
To reach the Black Sea, the Russian ships travelled 100 kilometers along the Volga-Don Canal passing 13 gateways. According to the Russian military command, some ships are still on their way to the Black Sea.
The Russian command says that the ships of the Caspian flotilla will carry out the drills together with the Black Sea Fleet.
Several U.S. Navy warships are expected to enter the Black Sea in the next few days.
The U.S., in accordance with the Montreux Convention, notified Turkey that two warships would pass through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles in the direction of the Black Sea.
RIA Novosti reported, citing a source in the Turkish Foreign Ministry, that the American warships will enter the Black Sea on Aril 14-15 and will stay there until May 4.
A Pentagon source told CNN that the U.S. plans to send a naval flotilla to Russian shores.
According to him, at the moment, the navy continues air reconnaissance to assess the activity of the Russian fleet and the movement of troops in Crimea.
So far, the U.S. does not see that Russian military is preparing for aggressive actions, but "if anything changes, we will be ready to act," a source told CNN.
The U.S. military believes that Russia is conducting training and exercises. Intelligence has not detected orders for further action, although it is likely that could change at any time, the source said.
The build-up of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine is the highest since 2014, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Thursday.
"The United States is increasingly concerned about the escalation of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine," she said, adding that Washington is discussing the situation with NATO partners.