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America Sends Missile-Destroying Warship Into Russian Waters. President Putin Presumably Not Pleased.

Ever since Russian armed forces invaded and annexed the Ukrainian province of Crimea last month, the U.S. government has struggled to find an appropriate response. Trade sanctions and visa freezes on Russian government officials could punish Russia for what it's done in Crimea. But what could the U.S. do to deter further aggression?

This week, it appears the Obama administration hit upon its solution. It took the USS Donald Cook and sent it to Russia. Armed with new Standard Missile-3 IB weaponry from Raytheon (NYSE: RTN ) , the Cook boasts a robust version of Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT ) Aegis ballistic missile defense system capable of shooting down supersonic, high-trajectory missiles such as Russia uses to carry its nuclear warheads. The warship was modified for ballistic missile defense (BMD) duty as part of a $22 billion project to build shipborne and land-based missile defense stations to protect Europe from Iranian long-range missiles. But just as President Putin predicted, it appears to have use in countering Russian threats as well.

Departing its new base in Spain, the Cook is now en route to the Black Sea, where it will "show the flag" off the Ukrainian and Russian coasts -- a concrete demonstration to President Putin of how aggression in Crimea could bring about the very thing he fears: U.S. ballistic missile defenses set up right next to the Russian border.

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