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Monday, August 25

Getting a little crowded in the Black Sea

NATO sends more ships into Black Sea
INSTANBUL/MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) - NATO has sent a Polish frigate and a U.S. destroyer through the Bosporus to boost its presence in the Black Sea, where it is delivering humanitarian cargoes to Georgia, a source in the Turkish navy said.

"Two more NATO ships passed through the strait and entered the Black Sea on Friday evening," the source told RIA Novosti.

The deputy head of Russia's General Staff said the Navy was aware that NATO was strengthening its presence in the sea.

"The situation in the Black Sea is escalating. NATO is continuing to build up its naval presence in the area," Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn told reporters Saturday.

A Navy officer said Friday that Russia would continue its operations to ensure the security of shipping to and from Georgia's separatist republic of Abkhazia.

"The Black Sea fleet continues to carry out its task of maritime traffic security patrols off the coast of Abkhazia," Captain Igor Dygalo said.

The ORP General Pulaski and the USS McFaul joined two ships from Germany and Spain that entered the sea earlier Friday.

The Turkish navy source expected the NATO presence in the Black Sea to grow to about seven vessels.

Nogovitsyn on Friday expressed doubts that NATO vessels needed to be in the Black Sea, and he promised that Russia would respond swiftly to any provocations against its Black Sea Fleet.

Tensions between NATO and Russia are high following the recent conflict over Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

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