Russian frigate Admiral Essen and US Navy destroyer Donald Cook have sailed in close proximity of each other in the Bosporus Strait, with the encounter of the two warships captured in rare footage.
The video, released by Turkey’s Aydinlik news outlet, shows the American and Russian crossing under the bridge over the strait, connecting Europe and Asia, one after another. The distance between the two vessels was so small at some point that the sailors could have waved hello. The footage provides impressive close-ups of the two ships, allowing a good look at the guns and missile arsenals aboard.
Some YouTube comments praised the slick design of the Russian vessel and joked that its US counterpart was fleeing from it. USS Donald Cook was put in service back in 1998, while Admiral Essen is a much more modern ship. It was commissioned only in 2016, but already took part in Russia’s operation in Syria, firing Kalibr cruise missiles at terrorist targets.
Donald Cook entered the Bosporus Strait and traveled to the Mediterranean on Friday. The destroyer previously spent two weeks in the Black Sea in what the US Navy called an operation to provide security in the region. It also docked in the Ukrainian port of Odessa, providing the venue for the meeting between country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, and US Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker.
The situation in the Black Sea remains tense after three Ukrainian navy ships violated the Russian maritime border in the Kerch Strait, between Crimea and mainland Russia, in late November. It led to a lengthy naval chase and culminated in Russian coastguards using force to stop and detain the perpetrators.
But Kiev apparently keeps mulling new provocations as Ukrainian Prime Minister, Pavlo Klimkin, vowed on Friday that the Black Sea will become a “Bermuda triangle” for the Russian ships.
Massive Turkish navy drills, which kicked off on Thursday in the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean, added to military saber-rattling in the region.
More than 100 warships are taking part in the exercises as Ankara tries to highlight the might of its upgraded fleet.
The US and other NATO states have been routinely sending its warships to the Black Sea since Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014 and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine broke out.
Washington insists the missions are carried out in line with the international law on a rotational basis in order to reassure its allies in view of the so-called “Russian threat.”
Moscow slammed the presence of the US Navy in the area, saying that it only serves to increase tensions and puts Europe at risk of a military conflict.