Flashpoints

New for 2020: Black Sea patrols have remained consistent under Trump

U.S. Navy patrols to the Black Sea have remained consistent over the last several years despite testimony during President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings that he ordered the maneuvers be canceled.

A U.S. military official told Military Times that a U.S. naval ship had entered the Black Sea seven times in fiscal 2017, eight times in fiscal 2018, and eight times as of December 2019.

Christopher Anderson, a U.S. foreign service officer, testified before lawmakers that Trump had ordered the Black Sea patrols be canceled after seeing a report on CNN about the U.S. naval movements in the contentious waters in January.

But those patrols were never canceled and they have remained consistent under Trump’s tenure in the White House. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Ross patrolled the Black Sea in December, making it the eighth time a U.S. warship visited the Black Sea in 2019.

“Throughout the year, U.S. 6th Fleet assets have operated in the Black Sea in support of our regional partners and allies,” Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, the commander of U.S. 6th Fleet said in news release. “Ross’ transit demonstrates our continued commitment to security and stability in the maritime domain.”

The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship Fort McHenry entered the Black Sea in January, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Porter patrolled the Black Sea in October.

“The U.S. Navy operates ships in the Black Sea consistent with international law, as well as with the Montreux Convention. Our operations in the Black Sea are meant to enhance our combined capability and interoperability with our NATO allies and partners. Our commitment to promoting peace and stability in this region is steadfast," Cmdr. Kyle Raines, a 6th Fleet spokesman, told Military Times in an emailed statement.

Trump was impeached by the House following a July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump is accused of withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. As of Dec. 23, the Senate had yet to receive formal notification and as a result had yet to take up the House move.

Stars and Stripes first reported that the U.S. Navy Black Sea patrols were never canceled.

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