U.S. Cancels Deployment of Warships to Black Sea, Turkey Says

The U.S. canceled plans to send two warships through Turkish straits into the Black Sea this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday, after Russia warned American vessels to stay away from a coastal region it annexed in 2014.

“The U.S. verbally canceled their passage yesterday. We’ve not received a written statement yet,” Cavusoglu said in an interview with NTV TV. “The ships can still pass within three days after the scheduled days but if they don’t then they have to notify Turkey again 15 days in advance of their passage.”

No reason was given for the change of plans. The U.S. warships had been scheduled to cross into the Black Sea on Wednesday and Thursday. There was no immediate comment from the U.S.

Russia warned earlier this week that any U.S. naval deployment in the Black Sea would be considered “extremely provocative.” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters that U.S. threats of consequences for Russian actions in Ukraine would only strengthen its resolve to defend Russian-speaking populations.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine are at their highest since the end of large-scale fighting in a conflict that began after President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea on the Black Sea. The war over the status of two breakaway regions in Ukraine’s east has already cost more than 13,000 lives.

Ukraine accuses Russia stoking tensions to win leverage in talks over the future of the regions

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