09:34 GMT23 September 2020
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    The Russian military has reported a major spike in NATO military activity in the Black Sea in recent weeks, with Russia repeatedly scrambling fighter jets to intercept bombers, spy planes and reconnaissance drones, and tracking warships traversing the body of water.

    The USNS Yuma expeditionary fast transport is making its way through the Turkish Straits and will soon enter the Black Sea for “routine maritime operations,” the US Navy’s 6th Fleet has announced via Twitter.

    The Navy did not specify what the spearhead-class amphibious assault ship, which has the capacity to carry 312 troops, a helicopter landing pad, and the ability to deploy small, rigid hull inflatable boats, would be doing during its time in the Black Sea.

    On Tuesday, the 6th Fleet announced that the USS Roosevelt Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer was also on route to the Black Sea from the Mediterranean, also for “routine maritime operations” including a focus on “enhancing regional maritime stability, combined readiness, and naval capability.” The Tomahawk missile-armed warship has 380 officers and enlisted men onboard, as well as a complement of two Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopters.

    The USS Roosevelt conducted a joint maritime and air training mission alongside a US Navy Poseidon P-8 Maritime Patrol spy plane and a NATO E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System plane on Wednesday, with the aircraft flying out of NATO bases in Italy and Germany.

    Earlier Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry reported that two Tu-22M3 bombers were escorted by foreign fighter jets during a flight over neutral waters in the Black Sea.

    On Monday, the Russian Air Force scrambled multiple Su-27 and Su-30 fighters to intercept US Air Force strategic bombers in the Black Sea. Earlier, Russian planes were scrambled to intercept US spy planes flying in the same area.

    Use of the Black Sea by non-Black Sea-adjacent states is limited by the Montreux Convention of 1936, which allows warships from outside powers to remain in the body of water for no more than 21 days. Additionally, no more than nine foreign warships, with a total tonnage of 15,000 tonnes, are allowed to be present in the Black Sea at any one time.

    The USS Roosevelt has a displacement of 9,300 tonnes, while the USNS Yuma displacement of 2,460 tonnes, full load.

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