Russia on Tuesday told the U.S. to keep its warships away from Crimea “for its own good,” calling their deployment in the Black Sea a provocation, Reuters reports.
“The United States is our adversary and does everything it can to undermine Russia’s position on the world stage,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to Russian news agencies. “We do not see any other elements in their approach. Those are our conclusions.”
Reuters notes that this is a departure from Moscow’s prior language describing the U.S. as “a partner.”
The Turkish government announced last week that the U.S. would be sending two warships to the Black Sea this week in light of a buildup of Russian military forces along Ukraine’s border.
The ships are expected to arrive by Wednesday or Thursday and will remain in the Black Sea until May 4.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Fighting between Moscow-backed separatists and Ukrainian soldiers resumed last month, bringing an end to a cease-fire that had been reached by the two groups last summer.
The Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministers released a statement on Monday calling on Russia to “cease its provocations” on the Ukraine-Russia border.
“We call on Russia to cease its provocations and to immediately de-escalate tensions in line with its international obligations,” the statement from the G-7 foreign ministers read.
“In particular, we call on Russia to uphold the OSCE principles and commitments that it has signed up to on transparency of military movements and to respond to the procedure established under Chapter III of the Vienna Document," it added, referring to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.