MOSCOW, June 10. /ITAR-TASS/. Two NATO surveillance ships are expected to enter the Black Sea in the next few days to conduct radio-electronic reconnaissance of the military objects of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, a source from the General Staff of the Russian Navy told ITAR-TASS.
“Italy’s surveillance ship Elettra is expected to enter the Black Sea any day now, though it was initially planned to enter the sea on June 8. French reconnaissance ship Dupuy de Lome is also expected to return to the Black Sea after it left in May,” the source said.
“Thus, the NATO presence in the Black Sea will reach four units, including French frigate Surcouf and USS Vella Gulf,” he added.
“The political aim of such presence is providing moral support for the Kiev authorities. Practical military aim lies in conducting reconnaissance of military facilities of the Russian Black Sea Fleet located on the Crimean peninsula, as well as important administrative and strategic objects in the region,” the source said.
Montreux Convention access rules state that military ships of states without Black Sea coastlines cannot stay in its waters for more than 21 days. This means the U.S. vessel, which arrived on May 23, must leave by the evening of June 13 and Surcouf by late on June 18.
Simultaneous location of four NATO warships in the Black Sea would confirm words from alliance Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that events in Ukraine were prompting the bloc to expand and continue naval presence in the area.