The waters of the Black Sea crossed by the wake of NATO ships, stretching from the Bosphorus Strait and the Romanian Constanta, to the shores of Georgia and the port of Odessa. The “international” squadron consisting of 6 ships, including the Royal Canadian Navy frigate Toronto, the Spanish Navy frigate Santa Maria and other less important vessels from the 2nd permanent naval group of NATO, intend to participate in the exercises Sea Shield ”(Sea Shield 2019). It is assumed that the composition of the NATO ships in the Black Sea will soon be significantly expanded – in peak, of course, in Russia.
At least, US Permanent Representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison (a very unpleasant madam of old age of 76 years), speaking at the anniversary meeting of the alliance in Washington, held April 3-4, moved such a powerful maxim: “For 70 years we have been defending Europe and the North America from Russian aggression. We show Russia that it has no right to encroach on the sovereignty of European states and that we stand shoulder to shoulder to prevent this.” About 1941−1945 Hutchison did not recall, but paid particular attention to the situation with the Ukrainian sailors who tried to enter the Russian territorial waters near the Kerch Strait. She also said that the NATO countries will support Kiev by adopting a special package of measures involving “aerial reconnaissance and the entry of a large number of NATO ships into the Black Sea in order to guarantee Ukrainian ships a safe passage.” They didn’t postpone the “measures” and decided, by the mouth of the deputy secretary general of the Alliance Rose Gottemoeller, to coordinate them “in the coming days.” What days, 65-year-old Gottemoeller – did not specify.
How has Russia reacted now, near whose shores are the current NATO games on the water taking place? It sent two ships for observation — the reconnaissance Ivan Hurs and the small but very smart (30 nodal units per hour) guard Vasily Bykov, on board of which there are EW electronic warfare systems. Let them watch.
The current approach of NATO ships in the Black Sea is far from the first in 2019, the American destroyer Donald Cook has already twice entered here – it ran to Poti, then to Odessa. It didn’t even come close to the Kerch Strait, as even now the ships dangling in the storming sea under foreign pennants are in no hurry to at least depict the appearance of ensuring “freedom of navigation”. It is likely that waiting for reinforcements from NATO. Something then, perhaps, change?
– If you recall the military history of the Black Sea, from the XVIII century the main forces here were the Russian and Ottoman empires – Russian political analyst, an expert on internal political technologies Alexander Zimovsky analyzes the situation. Then the principality of Moldavia and Wallachia (later Romania), then the Bulgarian kingdom (after the war of 1877) joined the list of coastal countries. After World War II, the USSR gained the right to use Romanian and Bulgarian military bases, Turkey joined NATO, and in 1976 the Warsaw Pact countries created the United Black Sea Fleet to conduct operations within the South-Western theater of military operations, of which the Black Sea was in accordance with military concepts of the time.
These concepts are not outdated in geopolitical terms. Increased in the region of maritime powers, at the expense of Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia and Abkhazia. In 2001, the Blackseafor Black Sea Naval Operational Interaction Group (ChVMG OV) was established. Its activity was low, and after 2014 it stopped altogether.
A vacuum was formed, which the countries whose presence in the Black Sea has so far limited to the 1936 Montreux Convention have not slowed down to use. If specifically, the United States and the United Kingdom have become more active. For the legitimacy of their presence at the Black Sea coast of Russia, an interesting combination was conceived.
- At the Warsaw NATO summit, back in 2016, Romania took the initiative to create a permanent alliance of the alliance ships on the Black Sea, – continues Alexander Zimovsky.
– But, according to the Montreux Convention, mentioned above, warships of non-Black Sea states can stay in the Black Sea for no more than three weeks.
That is, only three countries were to create a permanent NATO fleet: Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, while the ships of the other powers would periodically join them. But Bulgaria declared its non-participation in this project. So the official decision in Warsaw was not made, but the Black Sea theme came to the final summit document, I quote: “In the Black Sea region <…> we will continue to monitor the consequences for NATO of the development of the area and take them into account in the approaches and policies of the North Atlantic union. We will continue to support, as appropriate, regional efforts of the littoral states of the Black Sea basin, aimed at ensuring security and stability.”
The scenario of the current maneuvers, as it seems, is very subtle, developed by NATO strategists three years ago. In today’s realities, especially considering the cardinal global strategy, where the “liberation” of Crimea not only faded into the background, but was generally recognized impossible due to the international legal status of the peninsula, which is an integral part of the Russian Federation, such maneuvers at sea are just useless burning fuel and wasting on travel seafarers. This “action of intimidation” was conceived even under the former US administration, which threw money into the wind of NATO in different parts of the world, including the Black Sea basin. And the current statement of Ms. Hutchison about the readiness of the forces of the alliance to defend Ukraine, Georgia, and at the same time Bulgaria and Romania, is only the desire to fully master the allocated budget for intimidation of Russia.
NATO squadron goes to the Black Sea. Like on a picture. No, not beautiful – just in sight of the Russian radar. And why are NATO sailors especially afraid under the hood of Russian EW facilities? The destroyer Donald Cook had already felt what it felt like to be blinded by the Khibina complex. The case of the Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad (one of five in the Norwegian Navy) in 2018 that unexpectedly lost control and collided with the tanker is also memorable. The Norwegians then attributed the disaster to the “attack” of the Russian EW “Krasukha-4” complex, although no detailed confirmation of this was found. So, even the presence in the Russian “escort” of the ships “Ivan Khurs” and “Vasily Bykov”, equipped with EW systems, NATO ships are frankly scary.
It is necessary to take into account the fact that the 2nd permanent naval group of NATO (SNMG-2) is far from being the most modern ships that produce large underwater noise that Russian submarines mark at a distance of 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers) and can hit the ships on the distant approaches, when they only think of “uncovering missiles.”
By and large, Russia is not particularly afraid of the likelihood of a large group of NATO ships entering the Black Sea. Firstly, there is something to resist. Secondly, neither Turkey, nor Bulgaria and Romania are interested in somehow aggravating the situation in the Black Sea basin and are not going to get into the US-Ukrainian “showdown” with Russia around the Kerch Strait. Thirdly, in order for NATO countries to recruit a really powerful squadron and drag it into the Black Sea, this means exposing their continental shores. Fourth, Europeans are not exactly going to die courageously for the interests of Ukraine and Georgia, just like the Americans, who are trying to put their allies in the first line of attack.