Espreso. Global
OPINION

NATO turns a blind eye to Russia running amok in Black Sea

7 January, 2024 Sunday
18:21

The Russian Federation plans to intensify its maritime activities, targeting vessels sailing to and from Ukrainian ports

In a hybrid way, Russia is trying to block the existing corridor, which is functioning thanks to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Since the Russians are afraid to use the available ships for fear of being hit by Ukrainian Neptune missile systems or maritime strike drones, they will prefer to act from the air.

In order to provide legal grounds for their actions, under the pretext of conducting naval and aviation training, they sent a warning to close the maritime zone in a wide strip from the Kerch Strait, skirting the occupied Crimea coast approximately to Cape Tarkhankut and from there to the Danube mouth.

This area was "closed" on New Year's Eve for the period from 9 p.m. on December 31, 2023 to 9 p.m. on March 31, 2024, i.e. for 3 months.

Russia's plan is probably to conduct "exercises" to practice aerial sea mines (Su-24M), and it is clear that sooner or later some vessel will hit such a mine.

This will have a negative impact on the corridor's functioning - freight rates, insurance, etc. will soar. Or, against the backdrop of NATO's escalation fears, they may demonstratively hit a ship with a missile strike and then mockingly claim that we warned them that the area was closed due to training firing and launches.

Russia's practice of closing off maritime areas under the name of training is not new. They practiced it during the Sea Breeze and Agile Spirit exercises in the Black Sea back in 2019 and 2020 and made sure that there was no reaction from NATO, so why not continue to use international maritime law to their advantage. The apotheosis was when almost 1/4 of the Black Sea was blocked in July 2019. The response from NATO was nonexistent, just as it is at present.

The events like March 14, 2023, when a Russian Su-27 fighter jet downed a US MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea without using conventional weapons and the pathetic reaction of anti-escalationists from the Potomac, and especially the latest incident on December 29, 2023, with a Russian cruise missile flying deep into NATO territory (Poland), every inch of which is supposedly protected, and the Alliance's pathetic response to it, only give the Kremlin the nerve to go full throttle.

Russia's actions are not surprising, they don't raise any questions, but the US and NATO's inaction does. And not only among Ukrainians, but also in the countries that are Alliance members. Back in 2020, Ukrainian experts within the Maritime Expert Platform proposed to create an A2/AD (anti-access and area denial) restricted access zone in the northwestern sea sector to protect the sea and airspace of the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine, which would guarantee the smooth functioning of the only route for merchant shipping not controlled by Russia. But no…

There is nothing to prevent NATO from mirroring these actions - blocking off a maritime area in the Baltic Sea at the exit of The Gulf of Finland for exercises, or an area in the Eastern Mediterranean to block access to the Tartus base in Syria, or closing the space between Svalbard and Cape Nordkap (Norway). There are opportunities, but no iron eggs.

Source

About the author. Mykhailo Honchar, expert on international energy and security relations

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.



 
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