Putin says Russia will 'answer' NATO ships in Black Sea

MOSCOW (AP) -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Russia will respond calmly to an increase in NATO ships in the Black Sea, but he's promising "there will be an answer."

Russia has repeatedly complained that NATO has too many ships in the Black Sea. In the aftermath of Russia's brief war with Georgia, the Foreign Ministry says there are two U.S. and three European ships there. Russian officials say the U.S. could have delivered weapons to Georgia under the guise of humanitarian aid.

The Interfax news agency quotes Putin as saying Russia doesn't understand "what American ships are doing on the Georgian shores" and why humanitarian aid "is being delivered on naval vessels armed with the newest rocket systems." He says Russia will respond, but "without any sort of hysteria."

Separately, Russian officials are criticizing European threats to postpone talks on a wide-ranging political and economic agreement. Russia's EU envoy says "Russia and the European Union are bound by destiny to be close partners."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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