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U.S. Warship In Russian-Patrolled Georgian Port

POTI, Georgia -- The flagship of the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet has dropped anchor off Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti, where Russian troops have been patrolling since last month's war with Georgia.

The "USS Mount Whitney," a sophisticated command warship based in Italy, is the third U.S. vessel to arrive on the Georgian coast with humanitarian aid for tens of thousands displaced by the conflict over Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia.

The oil and dry-grain shipment port of Poti is patrolled by Russian troops, who Moscow says are carrying out peacekeeping duties. Georgia and its Western allies say their presence is part of an illegal occupation.

The "USS McFaul" and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel delivered aid last month at Batumi, Georgia's largest port south of Poti, prompting Russian accusations of a military buildup.

Russian forces say they will carry out regular checks of cargo coming in and out of Poti. They man at least two positions close to access roads on the outskirts of the town.

The delivery of humanitarian aid by a U.S. warship has angered Russia, which has its own Black Sea Fleet based in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

A U.S. Navy statement said "Mount Whitney" would deliver more than 17 tons of aid, including blankets, juice, powdered milk, and hygiene products.