The sight of NATO ships moored in the Bosphorus
is a reassuring one for Turkish citizens.
There is tension after Ankara shot down a Russian military jet on November the 24th, claiming it was in violation of Turkish airspace.
NATO recently said it would boost its presence in the eastern Mediterranean.
“We don’t know what NATO have in the bag but we are waiting for retaliation to the plane being shot down,” said one onlooker. “They will do something, I think that is why they are there.” Another added, “We are a NATO member. Any attack against us, however small, is considered an attack against the whole of NATO. I think this is necessary.”
Russian media are reporting that three NATO frigates and a US guided missile destroyer are destined for patrol in the Black Sea.
The US naval command says it is part of ongoing attempts to enhance regional stability and is intended to show support for NATO member states.
USNavyEurope</a>: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USSRoss?src=hash">#USSRoss</a> to enter <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackSea?src=hash">#BlackSea</a> today to promote peace & stability - <a href="https://t.co/qbi7NhdKHW">https://t.co/qbi7NhdKHW</a> <a href="https://t.co/u3pLKYJny3">pic.twitter.com/u3pLKYJny3</a></p>— U.S. Navy (USNavy) December 3, 2015
The American guided missile destroyer USS Ross is accompanied by three missile frigates from Portugal, Spain and Canada.
The USS Ross in numbers
- 56 The number of nuclear-armed Tomahawk missiles the vessel carries.
- 1 DH-60 Seahawk multi-mission helicopter
- 337 The number of crew aboard
Reaction in the region
Turkish media say the NATO naval group has arrived at a time when tensions between Turkey and Russia are at their highest.
NATO</a> supports Turkey in downed <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RussianJet?src=hash">#RussianJet</a> incident, Turkish PM says no apology <a href="https://t.co/uqcWW0QTCM">https://t.co/uqcWW0QTCM</a> <a href="https://t.co/wMmWugtMQR">pic.twitter.com/wMmWugtMQR</a></p>— Hurriyet Daily News (HDNER) November 30, 2015
During a November 30th meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged full support for “Turkey’s right to protect its airspace and borders.”