A US warship arrived on Sunday at Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi in order to hold a joint training session and to send a message of support to the NATO-aspiring country, the US embassy has reported.
The USS Laboon (DDG-58), an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer from the US 6th Fleet “will conduct routine combined training with the Georgian Coast Guard,” the US embassy in Tbilisi said.
Georgia fought and lost a war with Russia in 2008 and wishes to join the NATO and EU despite Russian opposition to these goals. The country is concerned about Russia’s annexation of Crimea and involvement in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The embassy said in a statement that the port call “reaffirms the United States’ commitment to strengthening ties with NATO allies and partners like Georgia, while working towards mutual goals of promoting security and stability in the Black Sea region.”
Among those who attended the welcoming ceremony in Batumi were Georgia’s Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili, Chief of General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces (GAF) Major General Vakhtang Kapanadze and US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland.
Captain McCallum of the USS Laboon told the press that the vessel and its crew has been “up in the Black Sea region for about a week operating with our partners in the area and we look forward to working ashore now … and in the coming days working afloat at sea with our Georgian partners.”
The USS Laboon will remain in the port of Batumi until Monday.