The Pentagon said the ships were in the region for routine maritime drills with NATO allies and partners.
Mariani, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said the US would refrain from accepting Ukraine into NATO, which he called the ultimate escalation.
He also said Ukraine was becoming a real problem for Europe. A recent report by the European Court of Auditors on Ukraine’s finances revealed an 8 billion euro ($9.2 billion) hole in EU support funds. Mariani suggested that the money went to power-hungry oligarchs behind President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“This is very serious and could push Ukrainian politicians, the culprits of this widespread corruption, into a headlong rush action, for example into a hazardous military offensive in Donbass or an armed provocation of Russia in the Black Sea”, he said.
Mariani said that the US-Russia standoff over Ukraine was part of the alliance’s strategy of making small steps towards a broader conflict with Russia. NATO has also expanded its theatres of operation to the Pacific, with NATO ships patrolling the South China Sea to help the US respond to the “Chinese security threat.”