Russian FM raises doubts about purpose of US warship’s visit to Black Sea

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had doubts that the U.S. warship Mount Whitney’s call to the Black Sea has "a humanitarian purpose".

Ships of such class can hardly bring large volumes of humanitarian aid, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Friday.

The Mount Whitney entered the Black Sea on September 4. "The purpose of the visit declared by the American side is the delivery of relief supplies for the Georgian side," the spokesman said. "However this ship has the most advanced control, communication and reconnaissance systems that can effectively command a joint naval task force."

"According to information contains in specialised reference books, it is a number one ship of this type in the U.S. Navy in technological terms. This raises questions about the purpose of the Mount Whitney’s visit," the diplomat said.

The Mount Whitney arrived in the Poti seaport on Friday afternoon.

The U.S. embassy said the ship had delivered 17 tonnes of humanitarian aid for Georgian citizens who suffered in the August combat in the South Ossetian conflict zone and adjoining areas. The ship delivered powdered milk, juices, food and basic necessities, including blankets and bed linen.

"The Mount Whitney is unable to enter the seaport zone because of its large size. So, it will stay offshore for unloading," a seaport administration source said. A floating crane was sent to the ship for transferring the cargo to smaller vessels.

This is the third American warship to bring humanitarian supplies to Georgia. The previous deliveries were made to Batumi on August 24 and 27. The warships have left the Georgian territorial waters.

The Mount Whitney is 189 meters long and has the displacement of about 18,500 tonnes.

The ship had passed through Turkey’s controlled Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits in accordance with the Montreux Convention that allows ships of non-Black Sea costal states may stay in the Black Sea for three weeks.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 06Sep08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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