The U.S. Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea, but a deployment of warships will now send a specific message to Moscow, which the U.S. is keeping an eye on, the official said.
The United States is required to give 14 days notice of its intention to enter the Black Sea under a 1936 treaty that gives Turkey control of the strait to enter the sea. It is unclear whether a message has yet been sent.
The defense official also said the navy continues to fly reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Black Sea to monitor Russian naval activity and any troop movement in Crimea.
On Wednesday, two U.S. B-1 bombers completed missions across the Aegean Sea on Wednesday.
Although the United States does not see the gathering of Russian forces as an attitude to an offensive action, the official told CNN that “if anything changes, we are ready to respond.”
The Biden administration and the international community have expressed concern over rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia. In recent weeks, President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, President-in-Office Mark Milley and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan have all spoken to their Ukrainian counterparts.
“We are concerned about the recent escalation of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, including the credible reports that have come in regarding Russian troop movements on Ukraine’s borders and occupied Crimea,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price said this week.
“We have asked Russia for an explanation for these provocations, but most importantly, what we have signaled directly to our Ukrainian partners is a reassuring message,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said this week that it was important “for all sides to abide by the Minsk agreement” and “for territorial integrity and Ukraine’s sovereignty to be respected by Russia.”
On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw troops to decal the situation, according to a German government spokesman.
According to a Kremlin reading of the call, Putin accused Kyiv of “provocative acts.”