While there is little doubt that the United States and Russia are in some sort of clandestine competition, the two superpowers seldom take direct shots at one another. Our mutual beef has long existed underground, as if that gives us some plausible deniability regarding the conflict.
But this week was different, as the Biden administration made some military maneuvers in Putin’s backyard, and Russian forces were compelled to respond with a threat of their own.
Russia on Tuesday called the United States an adversary and told U.S. warships to stay well away from Crimea “for their own good”, calling their deployment in the Black Sea a provocation designed to test Russian nerves.
Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and two U.S. warships are due to arrive in the Black Sea this week amid an escalation in fighting in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have battled Russian-backed separatists in a conflict Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.
Their language was stern.
“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 was cited as saying by Russian news agencies.
“We do not see any other elements in their approach. Those are our conclusions,” the agencies quoted him as saying.
The moment marks a major uptick in tensions between the two nations, as the Biden administration continues to put pressure on Russia in ways that the Trump administration did not.