The U.S. Coast Guard will transfer two armed cutters to the Ukrainian navy in a ceremony in Baltimore, MD this week, as the Trump administration continues its buildup of lethal support for Kyiv in its struggle against the Russian Federation in the Sea of Azov.
The Russian navy has harassed and boarded multiple Ukrainian vessels over the last several months as the conflict in Donbass spills out into the body of water the two nations share. The new Russian bridge to Crimea has been used to restrict Ukrainian shipping into nearby ports.
For its part, the Trump administration has called for upgrading Ukraine’s naval and aviation capability in the face of the Russian received threat.
Ukraine announced the deployment of two armored artillery boats to the port city of Berdyansk on Sept. 8, about a week after a Ukrainian naval commander said the country would send more vessels, marines and artillery to the sea. And to support the naval buildup, the commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, Col. Gen. Serhiy Popko, announced on Sept. 12 that Ukraine would bolster its ground forces near the sea amid plans to establish permanent territorial defense structures and deploy missile and artillery forces, as well as the air force, to the region “to provide reliable coastal defense.” For its part, Russia has reportedly redeployed at least 10 warships and up to 40 patrol boats from the Caspian Sea to the Sea of Azov in recent months, wrote Stratfor recently.
“The United States condemns Russia’s harassment of international shipping in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait,” said State Department spokesman Heather Nauert.
“Russia has delayed hundreds of commercial vessels since April and in recent weeks has stopped at least 16 commercial ships attempting to reach Ukrainian ports.”
The two Coast Guard cutters, purchased through the Pentagon’s Excess Defense Articles program, reported The Hill.