WW3 fears grow as US patrol ships back up Ukrainian navy against Russia

The rising tensions in Ukraine threaten to escalate into a direct confrontation between Russia and America as a ship carrying two former US Coast Guard cutters has been sent to the Black Sea to reinforce the Ukrainian Navy.

Ukraine’s naval power was dramatically reduced after Russian forces annexed the Crimea, taking possession of the bulk of the Ukrainian navy, and it has since been trying to rebuild its navy with the help of NATO countries.

Ukraine will not be paying for the cutters according to an announcement from the Ukrainian Navy’s Admiral Ihor Voronchenko, and the only expenses involved would be transfer costs and the training of Ukrainian maintenance crews.

The US. State Department this summer approved the potential sale to Ukraine of up to 16 Mark VI patrol boats and equipment for an estimated $600 million (£446 million).

The two new 110-foot Island-class patrol boats are equipped with advanced electronics and navigation equipment and have 10 tons worth of space and weight reservations for additional weapons

The United States, Ukraine and NATO have accused Russia of threatening behaviour towards Kiev in recent weeks alleging that it has built up its forces in proximity to Ukraine in an unusual way, sparking World War Three fears.

Russia insists it has the right to move its troops anywhere it wants on its own territory and is not planning to attack anyone.

The Kremlin said in September that NATO would cross a "red line" if it expanded its military infrastructure in Ukraine, and Moscow has since accused Ukraine and NATO of destabilising behaviour, including in the Black Sea.

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US ships sailing into the Black Sea have been described as Western “aggression" by Moscow, and the US 6th Fleet flagship’s USS Mount Whitney has recently passed through the Dardanelles back into the Mediterranean after a controversial patrol.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that he is keen to maintain the tension on Russia’s western border, telling an audience of foreign policy officials: “Our recent warnings have been noticed and are having an effect. There’s a certain tension there.

“We need that condition to remain for as long as possible, so they don’t get it in their heads to start some conflict we don’t need on our western borders.”

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