MOSCOW, Russia: Russia has called upon the United States to keep its naval ships from approaching the Crimea, saying U.S. caution in the area is "for their own good."
A Russian official went further, calling U.S. deployments in the Black Sea a provocation designed to test Russian nerves.
Two U.S. warships are scheduled to arrive in the Black Sea this week. This comes during an escalation in fighting in eastern Ukraine, where 14,000 have died in combat between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
The American deployment takes place at a time when the west has become alarmed over a large build-up of Russian forces close to Ukraine's eastern border.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted on Tuesday as saying U.S. warships in the Black Sea must keep their distance, adding that the risk of incidents is very high.
"There is absolutely nothing for American ships to be doing near our shores, this is purely a provocative action. Provocative in the direct sense of the word: they are testing our strength, playing on our nerves. They will not succeed," Ryabkov said.
"We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast. It will be for their own good."
The Pentagon has since responded, saying that the U.S. military routinely sends vessels to the region.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based in Crimea.