US destroyer en route to Black Sea for ‘routine’ drills

US destroyer en route to Black Sea for ‘routine’ drills

A US guided-missile destroyer is en route to the Black Sea but naval officials said Thursday it was a “routine” deployment that was planned before the crisis unfolded in Ukraine.

The USS Truxtun departed the Greek port of Souda Bay Thursday to carry out joint training with Romanian and Bulgarian forces, the US Navy said in a statement.

“While in the Black Sea, the ship will conduct a port visit and routine, previously planned exercises with allies and partners in the region,” it said.

The mission was “scheduled well in advance of her departure from the United States,” it said.

Although portrayed as unrelated to tensions in Ukraine, where pro-Russian forces have taken de facto control over the Crimean peninsula, the presence of a US naval destroyer in the Black Sea sends a symbolic message to Moscow.

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