The US Navy operates regularly in the Black Sea, but a deployment of warships would now send a specific message to Moscow that the US is monitoring closely, 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 giving Turkey control of the straits to enter the sea. It is not known whether a notice has been sent again.
The defense official also said the navy continues to fly reconnaissance planes in international airspace over the Black Sea to monitor Russian naval activity and all troop movements in Crimea.
On Wednesday, two US B-1 bombers flew missions over the Aegean Sea.
Although the United States does not view the gathering of Russian forces as a posture for offensive action, the official told CNN that “if anything changes, we will be ready to respond.” Their current assessment is that the Russians are conducting training and exercises and that intelligence has not indicated military orders for further action, the official said, but noted that they were well aware that could change to any time.
The Biden administration and the international community have expressed concerns about rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia. In recent weeks, President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan have all spoken to their Ukrainian counterparts.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday said Russia’s actions were “deeply concerning.”
“The United States is increasingly concerned about the recent escalation of Russian aggressions in eastern Ukraine, including Russian movements on the Ukrainian border. Russia now has more troops on the border with Ukraine than ever since 2014. Five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed this week alone. are all signs of deep concern, ”Psaki said.
She also said a review of the Russian government’s actions would be concluded in “weeks, not months,” and that new sanctions against Moscow would not be introduced this week.
The Pentagon and the State Department have also expressed concern over Russia’s behavior in eastern Ukraine.
“We are concerned about the recent escalation of Russian aggressions in eastern Ukraine, including the credible reports that have been published on Russian troop movements on the borders of Ukraine and occupied Crimea,” said this week State Department spokesman Ned Price.
“We have asked Russia for an explanation of these provocations, but above all, what we have reported directly to our Ukrainian partners is a message of comfort,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said this week it was important “that all parties respect the Minsk Agreement” and “that Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty be respected by Russia “.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops in order to defuse the situation, according to a German government spokesperson.
According to a Kremlin reading of the appeal, Putin accused Kiev of “provocative actions”.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.