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U.S. Warship Monterey Visits Batumi
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 20 Jun.'11 / 15:28

Arrival of the USS Monterey, equipped with advanced Aegis antimissile weaponry, in the Black Sea last week, triggered Russia’s protest. Photo taken from USS Monterey’s website.

The U.S. guided-missile cruiser, Monterey, whose arrival in the Black Sea more than a week ago promoted Russia’s protest, docked in Georgia’s port of Batumi on June 20.

The U.S. Navy cruiser, equipped with a ballistic missile defence system, will stay in Georgia’s Black Sea port till June 23, according to the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi.

“The USS Monterey is operating in the Black Sea to conduct joint maritime training with several countries adjoining the Black Sea.  U.S. ships have regularly deployed in the Black Sea region for many years and represent the continuing U.S. commitment to Black Sea regional stability and maritime security,” the U.S. embassy said on June 17.

According to the Georgian officials twenty Georgian coast guard officers would engage in joint ship maintenance training with the U.S. warship’s personnel.

The USS Monterey’s arrival in Georgia comes less than two weeks after another U.S. guided-missile cruiser, Anzio, visited the port of Batumi on June 9-12 for a joint damage control exercises with the Georgian coast guard.

The USS Monterey with 43 officers and 323 enlisted personnel arrived in the Black Sea last week to participate in multinational military exercises, Sea Breeze 2011, co-hosted by Ukraine and the U.S.

Azerbaijan, Algeria, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Macedonia, Moldova, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the UK and the U.S. take part in the exercises held from June 6 to June 18. Organizers said the training agenda included counter-piracy operations; non-combatant evacuation operations, as well as board, search and seizure trainings.

In a statement released on June 12, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern over arrival of the U.S. warship, equipped with advanced Aegis antimissile weaponry, in the Black Sea.

“The Russian side has repeatedly stressed that we will not overlook the appearance of any elements of US strategic infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of our borders and will consider any such steps as a threat to our security,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russia and NATO have failed to agree on forms of cooperation on the missile shield in Europe and Russia says that its concerns are being ignored by the Alliance.

“If we are talking about the usual “visit” to this highly sensitive region, why did they choose a ship armed with this particular version of weapons? And what role was assigned to the Monterey anti-missiles by the scenario of the Sea Breeze 2011 exercise during which “an anti-piracy operation by NATO standards” was being tested and improved?” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

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