Expanding the presence of its ships in the Black sea, NATO is sending signals to Russia and Ukraine. How does this relate to events in the Kerch Strait and why the leadership took over the US?
Odessa takes the “Donald cook”. Based on a military base in Spain, equipped with a modern system ABOUT the American missile destroyer became a frequent guest in the Black sea. Before that, in January, he went to Batumi and conducted exercises with the Georgian coast guard. In the port of Odessa ship on Tuesday, February 26, visited the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, who was found on Board with the special representative of the United States Ukraine with Kurt Volker. Poroshenko described the meeting as “symbolic,” and approach the destroyer in Odessa – “an important signal to the Kremlin” that “Crimea is Ukrainian”, and that “freedom of navigation in the region is secure.”
Not too advertising, but being under the scrutiny of the black sea fleet of Russia, NATO is expanding the presence of its ships in the Black sea. Simultaneously with the “Donald cook” in the region is the Second permanent mine countermeasures group, NATO, headed by the German mother ship “Werra”. In January in the Black sea came the amphibious US Navy ship “Fort McHenry”, however, without a visit to Ukraine. Before that, in December, in Odessa was visited by British intelligence ship “Echo”.
NATO’s response to the incident in the Kerch Strait
These visits took place shortly after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Then the Russian ships used weapons and captured off the coast of the annexed Crimea two boats and a tug of the Ukrainian Navy, EN route from Odessa to Mariupol. These events are “clearly linked,” said in an interview with DW Deborah Sanders, an expert on naval issues in the Black sea and associate Professor at the Royal College in London. According to her, Europe is “rather slow” Kerch responded to the incident through diplomatic channels, and therefore was adopted “more of a military” approach – strengthen the presence of warships in the region.
“Yes, there is a direct link – confirmed DW the representative of Ukraine to NATO Vadim pristayko. Is one of the answers of the allies that occurred in the Kerch Strait”. According to him, Ukraine “is asking allies to increase the presence, to demonstrate to Russia that its plans to capture and extruding us from the Black sea, not to mention the sea of Azov, will encounter the response of the international community.”
US leadership, restraint of Turkey
Deborah Sanders draws attention to the fact that informal leadership in expanding the presence in the Black sea took over the United States. “I think the US wants to confront all the threats at sea around the world, just look at the South China sea, where they take part in operations freedom of navigation, says Sanders. – It is obvious that they carry out similar maneuvers in the Black sea, sending a clear signal to Moscow that the Black sea is not a Russian lake”.
According to her, “it used to be called naval diplomacy.” “This is what “Donald cook”, keeping Russia from expanding its influence in the Black sea, especially after the incident in the Kerch Strait,” continues Sanders. She attributes this to fears in Kiev over the possible blockade of Odessa, the main port of Ukraine, which became the basis of her Navy after the annexation of Crimea.
“The significance of the Black sea has increased – said in an interview with DW Hans-Joachim Stricker (Hans-Joachim Stricker), Vice Admiral retired, former until 2010 commander of the German Navy. – This happens on the background of statements of Russia that, say, a sphere of its special interests and the rest there is nothing to do. Such claims are unacceptable”.
The background activity of the USA and NATO member – Turkey – with her powerful Navy, is more restrained, observers say. “Turkey has to distribute power between the Black and the Mediterranean sea, says Deborah Sanders. Ankara decided not to give priority to the Black sea on the background of the situation in Syria and its sensitive energy dependence on Russia.” In addition, experts fear that in the background “cracks in the relationship” between the US and Turkey there is a risk of “increasing alienation” against Turkey to NATO. But there are opposite signals. For example, the same destroyer “Donald cook” before coming to Odessa, held exercises with the Turkish frigate.
A new balance of forces in the Black sea and the risk of collision
Speaking about Russia’s role, a retired Vice-Admiral Hans-Joachim Stricker mentioned that the NATO military jargon is called A2/AD (Anti Access/Area Denial). This is the concept of deterrence of a potential enemy access to certain areas by increasing their own military capabilities. So did Russia, increasing forces in Crimea and placing there a powerful new missiles, including cruise, such as “Caliber”. The balance of power in the Black sea changed in favour of the Russian Federation, admits Sanders. According to Stricker, the increased presence of NATO ships in the Black sea – the “answer” to the claims of Moscow.
What with the increase of military presence in the region increase the threat of direct collision, regularly show the Russian military pilots who were close to the NATO ships. In may 2018 is felt by the British destroyer “Duncan”. According to press reports, his close circled more than a dozen Russian fighter jets and bombers.
Hans-Joachim Stricker believes that such incidents are not as dangerous as it sounds, and refers to the experience of the cold war, when they were “almost daily”. In his opinion, we are talking about “the crazy actions of the pilots, but not about the preparation of the attack”.
As the Montreux Convention restricts NATO
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in mid-February stated that the Alliance is considering the possibility “to build” a presence in the Black sea. Some politicians in the state Duma reacted negatively, stating “provocation.” But the actions of the Alliance binds the Montreux Convention. Adopted in 1936, the document returned Turkey control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles, restricts the presence in the Black sea warships nachimovsky countries in tonnage and length – not more than 21 days.
“We believe that the current naval situation in the Black sea is far from one that was almost 100 years ago, when the Convention was signed,” – said the permanent representative of Ukraine to NATO Pristayko. According to him, due to the Montreux Convention the sunset in the Black sea large ships of NATO, such as the flagship of the 6th fleet U.S. “mount Whitney” – a rare case, as it was in the exercises “Sea breeze” in the summer of 2018. However, according to him, Kiev is “working” on this problem.