Two US warships steam towards Russia amid warning Putin has begun 'new type of WORLD WAR'
GETTYBLACK SEA: Two US destroyers have steamed towards Russia in a show of force to Putin
USS Ross and USS Carney - guided missile destroyers - have both entered the Black Sea which borders Russia's southwestern coast and the disputed Crimean Peninsula. Both vessels sailed the narrow Bosphorus strait in Istanbul as they arrived to begin operations in the landlocked sea - which is also bordered by Ukraine, Romania, Georgia and Bulgaria. The pair Arleigh Burke-class vessels each bristle with Tomahawk cruise missiles and weighing in at 9,000 tons each.
US Navy commanders said the vessels' mission was to "defend our nation's interests throughout the world". Waters in the Black Sea are regular grounds for clashes between the US and Russia, with relations stretched between Putin and NATO. And the vessels' arrival comes after Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko warned Moscow has begun a "full-fledged" and "hybrid" world war.
Russia shows off warships in massive naval paradeRussian warships sail on the Neva river during the Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg, Russia.REUTERSRussian warships sail during the Navy Day parade in Kronshtadt, a seaport town in the suburb of St. Petersburg
"The evil behind this war is the same, and he resides in the Kremlin"Mr Poroshenko
Mr Poroshenko - who has regularly spoken out against Russia since Putin annexed Crimea in 2014 - gave his chilling warning on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. He said: "Today, there is nothing for us but to acknowledge that the hybrid war being waged by Russia is gradually turning into a full-fledged World Hybrid War.
"This war has already recruited many different actors, who might not be even aware of their destructive roles. "However, the evil behind this war is the same, and he resides in the Kremlin."
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US forces and the Russians have clashed in Black Sea already this year after an "unsafe" flight by one of Putin's warplanes. The Su-27 jet came within just 5ft of a US Navy surveillance plane over the sea in an "flagrant violation of international law".
Moscow responded by vowing to defend its borders from any flights which it believed were"violating Russian airspace".
Russia and the US has seen relations plunge this week after Washington announced criminal charges for 13 Russians accused of interfering in the US election in 2016. Moscow's foreign ministry has branded the allegations as "absurd", and they come amidst a wider investigation into collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Meanwhile, up to 300 Russian mercenaries were killed after they attacked a US military base in Syria - with Putin denying any knowledge of the attack and it being dismissed as a rogue cell.
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Speaking of the two US warships arriving in the Black Sea, Vice Admiral Christopher Grady said: ""We operate at the tempo and timing of our choosing in this strategically important region.
"By nature, ships are flexible, mobile forces, and the Navy is uniquely capable of providing credible and capable forces to defend our nation's interests throughout the world." "The continued presence of the US Navy in the Black Sea demonstrates our enduring commitment to regional stability, maritime security of our Black Sea partners, and the collective defense of our NATO allies."
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Military build-up also continues on the edges of Europe - with both NATO and Russia accusing the other of aggression in the Baltic. UK forces are in Estonia carrying out war drills just 80 miles from Russia's border - with troops and tanks rehearsing for battle in the snow.
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