Thursday, July 21, 2016

Will the Russians Dominate the Black Sea?

A couple authors are worried about the Black Sea region coming under Russian dominance.

This author calls the Black Sea our exposed flank.

And this one says Russia is trying to turn the sea into a "Russian lake:"

By invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin has transformed the security situation in the Black Sea.

Upon capturing those territories, Moscow lost no time in seizing Ukrainian energy facilities in the Black Sea and accelerating its ongoing military modernization there. As a result, Moscow has built a combined arms force of land, sea, air, and electronic forces that NATO leaders admit is fully capable of denying access to NATO forces seeking to enter the Black Sea during a conflict. It has also deployed nuclear-capable weapons to the Black Sea area and is apparently building a similar network of anti-access area denial (A2/AD) capabilities against NATO in both the eastern Mediterranean around Syria and in the Caucasus.

I don't think that the war on Ukraine enabled these efforts, which could have gone on without that territory. The Donbas under Russian control is irrelevant to controlling the Black Sea and Russia already had bases in Crimea to do this.

And Armenia will help with air defenses in the region. Amazingly, Russia doesn't have to wage war to get some territory to embrace Russia.

NATO also has friends or member states on the eastern, southern and western shores of the Black Sea.

The Russian war against Ukraine creates a NATO-friendly buffer on the north shore and shields Romania from Russian ground forces. Which makes it vitally important that we increase Ukraine's ability to fight Russia and hold their ground in the face of Russian aggression.

But both authors are right that we have to pay attention to what the Russians are doing and deal with it.

If we play our cards right, the Black Sea could become a turkey shoot that crushes Russian naval power there in case of war.

By all means, don't ignore what Russia can do to hurt us in the Black Sea region. But let's focus a little more on how we hurt Putin's hostile regime.

I know those articles are several weeks old, but I meant to comment despite the time gap.