Putin will block foreign warships from entering Black Sea via the Kerch Strait

Russia will block foreign warships and non-commercial vessels from transiting the Kerch Strait to access the Black Sea, according to reports from Ukrainian media. The strait lies between Crimea and Russia, and connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov.

The closure will be in effect from April 24 through an unspecified date in October, according to the Kyiv Post. The blockage reportedly is to seal off the Black Sea for military drills, and comes amid heightened speculation of an imminent war between Russia and Ukraine.

The move materialized after Russia on Tuesday warned the U.S. to avoid the area “for their own good,” prompting the Biden administration to cancel plans for two U.S. Navy warships to enter the Black Sea.

“Russia has intensified its escalation at sea,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “The behavior of the Russian side indicates the absence of any intention on its part to refuse to continue the aggression against Ukraine using military and hybrid methods.”

The U.S. has “no desire to be in an escalatory cycle with Russia,” a senior administration official told reporters during a Thursday background briefing on increasing tensions with Russia.

The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not respond to a request for comment from Just the News.

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US Navy to Send 2 Warships to Black Sea as Russia-Ukraine Tensions Simmer

The United States will send two warships to the Black Sea next week, Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Friday, prompting Russia, which has boosted its military forces near Ukraine, to raise concerns about NATO powers that do not have a coast line in the region of increasing naval activity.

“A notice was sent to us 15 days ago via diplomatic channels that two U.S. warships would pass to the Black Sea, in line with the Montreux Convention. The ships will remain in the Black Sea until May 4,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said, referring to the international pact that gives Turkey control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits and regulates the movement of naval warships.

The Pentagon declined to discuss Turkey’s comments but said the military routinely sends ships to the region.

“That’s not anything new,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in Washington, referring to U.S. naval ships in the Black Sea.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Comer, a spokesman for U.S. 6th Fleet, told Military.com that the U.S. navy maintains a regular presence in the Black Sea, though he declined to say whether any ships are heading there now.

“As a matter of policy, we do not discuss future operations or ship schedules,” Comer told the outlet.

The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea leaves Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Florida, on Feb. 15, 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley/U.S. Navy via AP)

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko was cited by Russian news agency Interfax as saying on Friday that Moscow was concerned by increased activity in the Black Sea by governments that do not border its waters.

“The responsibility for maintaining security in the Black Sea belongs to the Black Sea states themselves, which have created all the necessary tools for this, including the Black Sea Economic Cooperation,” Grushko told Interfax.

Washington says Russia has amassed more troops on Ukraine’s eastern border than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea from Ukraine and backed pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine.

Kirby was asked at an April 6 press briefing whether Ukraine had asked for any specific assistance from the U.S. military in light of Russian troop buildup.

“I’m not aware of any specific requests for capabilities with respect to this,” Kirby told reporters, but added that “we do support Ukraine with both non-lethal and lethal items to allow them to better defend themselves.”

“We continue to stand, as I said yesterday, for the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Ukraine,” Kirby said, “and continue to call on Russia not to conduct provocations and not to increase tensions.”

Since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, there have been regular skirmishes between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, with the fighting estimated to have killed around 14,000 people. In late March, Ukraine said four of its soldiers had been killed by shelling by Russian forces in Donbass.

Epoch Times Photo
Ukrainian servicemen work on their tank close to the front line with Russian-backed separatists near Lysychansk, Lugansk region, on April 7, 2021. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

As tensions have ratcheted up in recent weeks, Russia has reportedly started amassing troops near its border with Ukraine, with Moscow announcing on April 6 that its military was beginning a routine “combat readiness” inspection of its forces.

On Thursday, Dmitry Kozak, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff, said that if Ukraine launches full-scale hostilities in Donbass, Russia will “be forced” to intervene. Kozak also made reference to a visit by Ukraine’s president to the country’s eastern frontline, saying the move is “playing with fire.”

Zelensky on Thursday visited positions along the frontline where a ceasefire “has been systematically violated in recent days,” with the aim of “maintaining the fighting spirit,” according to a statement from the Ukrainian presidency. Ukrainian authorities said another soldier was killed early Thursday after separatists opened fire on Ukrainian positions with mortars and artillery, bringing to 25 the number of its troops killed since the start of the year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on April 2 that any NATO troop deployment to Ukraine would lead to more tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.

Ukrainian troops land from Mi-8 helicopter
Ukrainian troops land from Mi-8 helicopter, built with Motor Sich’s engines, during an air force exercises in western Ukraine on Oct. 12, 2018. (Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images)

On Monday, the U.S. State Department said that it found reports of Russian military movements on Ukraine’s border “credible” and called on Moscow to explain the “provocations.”

“We call on Russia to refrain from escalatory actions,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in remarks to reporters, although he declined to say if Washington believes Russia is preparing to invade.

“We’ve asked Russia for an explanation of these provocations,” Price said. “But more importantly, what we have signaled with our Ukrainian partners is a message of reassurance.”

Price’s comments came after U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday held his first call with Zelensky, in which the president affirmed Washington’s support for “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression.”

Ukrainian President Zelenskiy meets European Council President Michel in Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a joint news conference with European Council President Charles Michel in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 3, 2021. (Sergey Dolzhenko/Pool via Reuters)

Throughout Europe, U.S. forces have raised their alert status in response to the “recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.”

Zelensky on Tuesday pushed for Ukraine’s admission into NATO, drawing an immediate rebuke from Moscow, which said Kyiv’s approach to the Western military alliance could further fan the flames of the conflict.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova addressed the Russia-Ukraine tensions at a briefing in Moscow on Friday, saying that, “regretfully, the situation there remains complicated and is prone to escalation.”

“We have also paid attention to the statement by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who visited Donbass yesterday, that the country’s admission to NATO would allegedly put an end to the conflict in the region,” Zakharova said.

“The hypothetical membership in the alliance would, contrary to Kiev’s expectations, not bring peace to Ukraine but would result in a large-scale escalation in its southeast and may lead to irreversible consequences for Ukrainian statehood,” she added.

While the United States has reaffirmed its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, it has not publicly backed Kyiv’s call for a quicker path to membership in NATO.

“We’ve long been discussing that aspiration with Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday when asked about Ukraine’s latest push to join the Western military alliance.

“We are strong supporters of them,” she added. “But that is a decision for NATO to make.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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The Finest: Are These Planes, Submarines, and Warships the Deadliest Ever?

Key point: All of the great powers have some impressive, modern weapons. Here is how they compare.

In today’s world, where everyday it seems a new piece of military technology is poised to take over the battlefield and make everything else obsolete, there are several weapons of war that seem to have some staying power. 

Aircraft carriers, while some may consider them obsolete, remain one of the ultimate ways to display national power and prestige, with the unique capability to attack targets from the world’s seas with deadly accuracy.

This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Submarines have many uses. Whether it is to exercise sea control, deter an enemy with underwater nuclear weapons or ensure you have the ability to strike with various types of conventional weapons like cruise missiles on land, subs seem to be only gaining in prominence. 

Then there is the bomber. Some are old, like the B-52. Some are just getting started, like the B-21 Raider. Some we don’t know much about, like Russia’s PAK-FA. Yet, one thing is clear: Bombers can still make or break any conflict that could occur now or in the future. 

And fighter jets are not going anywhere. The F-35 is the ultimate example–considering the massive cost–of this important military asset having clear staying power (the only debate at this point is whether it will be manned or unmanned). 

So what are the best carriers, submarines, bombers and fighters ever? Robert Farley, one of the world’s best defense experts and frequent TNI contributor, has written on this subject extensively. For your reading pleasure, we have packed together several pieces that take this subject on into this one post, which were written several years ago. Let the debate begin. 


The first true aircraft carriers entered service at the end of World War I, as the Royal Navy converted several of its excess warships into large, floating airfields. During the interwar period, Japan and the United States would make their own conversions, and all three navies would supplement these ships with purpose-built carriers. Within months of the beginning of hostilities in September 1939, the carrier demonstrated its worth in a variety of maritime tasks.

By the end of 1941, carriers would become the world’s dominant capital ship. These are the five most lethal carriers to serve in the world’s navies, selected on the basis of their contribution to critical operations, and on their longevity and resilience.

USS Enterprise:

The U.S. Navy supplemented Lexington and Saratoga, the most effective of the interwar battlecruiser conversions, with the purpose-built USS Ranger. Experience with all three ships demonstrated that the next purpose-built class would require a larger hull and flight deck, as well as a heavier anti-aircraft armament. This resulted in USS Yorktown and USS Enterprise, which along with their third sister (USS Hornet) would play a critical role in stopping the Imperial Japanese Navy’s advance in 1942. Capable of cruising at 33 knots, Enterprise displaced around 24,000 tons and could carry up to 90 aircraft.

While both Hornet and Yorktown were lost in the carrier battles of 1942, Enterprise served throughout the entire war. She helped search for the Japanese fleet in the wake of Pearl Harbor, and carried out the first reprisal raids in the early months of the war. She escorted Hornet on the Doolittle Raid, then helped sink four Japanese flattops at the Battle of Midway. She filled a crucial role during the Battles of Guadalcanal, surviving several near-catastrophic Japanese attacks.

Later in the war, Enterprise operated with the growing American carrier fleet as it formed core of the counter-offensive that would roll up Japanese possessions in the Pacific. Enterprise fought at Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf, helping to destroy the heart of Japanese naval aviation. She served in the final raids against Japan in 1945 until a kamikaze caused critical damage in May. Returning to service just as the war ended, she helped return American soldiers to the United States in Operation Magic Carpet. Enterprise was the most decorated ship in any navy during World War II, but sadly post-war preservation efforts failed, and the carrier was scrapped in 1960.

HMS Illustrious:

Between September 1939 and April 1942, the Royal Navy lost five of its seven pre-war aircraft carriers. HMS Illustrious and her three sisters filled the gap. Laid down in 1937, Illustrious traded aircraft complement for an armored deck, an innovation that would make the ship more robust than her Japanese or American counterparts. Displacing 23,000 tons, Illustrious could make 30 knots and carrying 36 aircraft.

Illustrious’ first major achievement came in November 1940, when her Swordfish torpedo bombers attacked the battleships of the Italian navy at anchor at Taranto. The attack, carried out on a shoestring compared to the great raids of the Pacific War, nevertheless managed to sink or heavily damage three Italian battleships. Illustrious spent the next few months carrying out raids in the Mediterranean and covering the evacuation of Greece. In the course of the latter, she survived several hits from German divebombers.

After receiving repairs in the United States, Illustrious operated against the Japanese in the Indian Ocean. She returned to the European theater in 1943, making additional raids on Norway and in support of Allied landings in Italy. Later Illustrious returned to the Pacific, where supplied with superior American carrier aircraft, she helped spearhead the Royal Navy counter-offensive into Southeast Asia. After surviving a kamikaze attack, she returned to Great Britain and eventually served as a training carrier before being scrapped in 1957.

HIJMS Zuikaku:

Zuikaku represented the zenith of pre-war Japanese carrier development. Along with her sister Shokaku, Zuikaku filled out Kido Butai with the addition of two large, fast, modern carriers. Displacing 32,000 tons and capable of carrying 72 aircraft, Zuikaku could make 34 knots, and absorb a relatively large amount of battle damage.

The size and modernity of the carriers meant that they could handle a greater operational tempo early in the war. After the Pearl Harbor raid, they participated in the Indian Ocean Raid, helping to sink the British carrier Hermes and several other ships. Afterward, Zuikaku and her sister deployed to Port Moresby to cover Japanese landings in what became the Battle of Coral Sea. Zuikaku survived undamaged, and contributed to the sinking of USS Lexington, but because of a lack of aircraft could not participate in the Battle of Midway.

Zuikaku continued to form the core of the Japanese carrier fleet into 1944, participating in and surviving the battles of Guadalcanal (where her aircraft helped sink USS Hornet) and the Battle of Philippine Sea. By October 1944, her supply of aircraft and pilots was almost completely exhausted. At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Zuikaku and several other carriers served as bait for Halsey’s battleships and carriers, luring them away from the center of the Japanese attack. The last survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack, Zuikaku sank under a barrage of bombs and torpedoes.

USS Midway:

USS Midway entered service in September 1945, shortly after the end of hostilities against Japan. She displaced 45,000 tons, could make 33 knots, and could carry roughly 100 aircraft. Midway and her sisters represented a step beyond the Essex-class carriers that had won the Pacific War, and promised to introduce a new era of naval aviation.

Upon commissioning, Midway became the world’s most lethal aircraft carrier. The offensive power of her air group exceeded that of the Essex carriers then in service, and with the introduction of jet aircraft the gap would grow. With the A-2 Savage carrier-based bomber, Midway and her sisters briefly became the only carriers in the world capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Midway underwent extensive modification over the course of her career, eventually acquiring an angled flight deck and other innovations. Although she missed Korea, Midway operated off Vietnam, and continued to serve as the larger “supercarriers” came online. She found heavy use in the Gulf War of 1990, as her (relative) small size gave her an advantage in maneuverability over the more modern supercarriers. Midway left service in 1992, having spanned the history of naval aviation from the F6F Hellcat to the F/A-18 Hornet.

USS Theodore Roosevelt:

The ten Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carriers have been the world’s dominant capital ships since they began to enter service in the late 1970s. Constructed over a period spanning nearly 35 years, the class continues to provide the core of American naval power. Among the most active of the Nimitz class has been the USS Theodore Roosevelt, first of the second group of ships. Roosevelt entered service in 1986; she displaces over 100,000 tons, carries between 75-80 aircraft, and can make 30 knots top speed.

Roosevelt has served in most of the conflicts of the post Cold-War era. In 1991 she launched strikes against Iraqi targets during Operation Desert Storm. In 1999, her aircraft conducted strikes in Kosovo and Serbia in service of Operation Allied Force. After the September 11 attacks, Roosevelt deployed to the Middle East and participated in the first sorties against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Operation Enduring Freedom. Two years later, her aircraft flew against Iraqi targets again in the first days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After a refit, Roosevelt launched strikes against both Afghan and Iraqi targets in the latter part of the decade. Most recently, Roosevelt helped blockade Yemeni ports against a suspected Iranian arms convoy.

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