Military

Ukraine & Georgia Viewed As Key Gateway For NATO To Gain A Foothold In The Black Sea

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 22 November 2019
Ukraine & Georgia Viewed As Key Gateway For NATO To Gain A Foothold In The Black Sea

The reunification of the Crimea with Russia, the improvement of the relations with Turkey and other signs of the growth of Russian influence in the Black Sea region seriously worry the U.S.

U.S. analysts are thinking about developing a special strategy to contain Russia in the Black Sea, using the potential of NATO countries and other U.S. allies in the region. NATO foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday agreed on measures to strengthen security in the Black Sea region, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a presser in Brussels.

“The NATO member countries’ ministers reviewed the Black Sea security action package that was adopted in April. This includes naval training, exercises and information sharing. The North Atlantic Council’s recent visits to Georgia and Ukraine were a good opportunity to see this action package feasible. NATO’s permanent naval groups conducted exercises with Georgian and Ukrainian military ships to increase their abilities to work together,” NATO boss said

He noted that the alliance continue to carry out naval and air patrols in the Black Sea region. Now six countries have access to the Black Sea - Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia. Turkey maintains neutrality in the U.S.-Russian rivalry, Ukraine and Georgia come out with sharply anti-Russian positions, Romania and Bulgaria are U.S. allies in the Eastern Europe.

Accordingly, Washington can rely only on four countries of the Black Sea region. Thus, Washington’s fears about its future influence in the Black Sea region are quite understandable. And in these conditions, one of the most important tasks for the United States is to maintain control over Ukraine, increase the power of the Ukrainian armed forces and deploy its own military facilities in this country.

The U.S. government analytical center RAND Corporation, which published a report on countering Russian expansion in the Black Sea, considers it necessary, first of all, to build up the military power and military capabilities of NATO countries with access to the Black Sea.

The main focus of the report is on the deployment of anti-ballistic and coastal defense equipment in Bulgaria and Romania, as well as on improving the military capabilities of Ukraine and Georgia as the main allies of the United States and NATO in the region. Actually, recently the U.S. has already demonstrated extremely high military activity in the Black Sea direction, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who called Washington’s activity unprecedented since the end of the Cold War.

In particular, the United States is deploying anti-ballistic missile defense systems in Romania, and does not conceal its intentions to conduct military and naval exercises with Ukraine and Georgia as often as possible.

However, apparently, NATO itself has not yet decided what to do with Ukraine and Georgia. There was a clear split. Washington and its "loyal swordsmen" mainly from Eastern Europe insist on inviting Kiev and Tbilisi to join the alliance. As the main argument for inviting Ukraine and Georgia, the "new Europeans" cite such an argument.

They argue that the refusal to the MAP for the former republics of the Soviet Union would cast doubt on the open door policy that NATO has so far preached. However, Old Europe is also concerned about the other side of the coin - the inevitable cooling of relations with Russia.

The countries of Old Europe believe that such a decision will inevitably ruin Europe’s relations with Moscow, and Georgia’s entry into NATO will lead to a direct conflict with Russia. At the same time, if you look at the events of recent months, it is NATO, and not Russia, that intensifies tension in the region. As Secretary General of the Alliance Jens Stoltenberg said this spring, Western ships will more often call at the ports of Ukraine and Georgia, conduct joint naval exercises and exchange intelligence.

US Permanent Representative to NATO Kay Bailey added that NATO intends to adopt the so-called Black Sea package of measures. It includes enhanced aerial reconnaissance and cover for Ukrainian ships passing the Kerch Strait. The United States has long cherished the idea of creating a "sanitary cordon" of states hostile to Russia, from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Washington understands that it is difficult for them to compete with Russia in the Black Sea. Therefore, they are trying to "accustom" Russia to the fact that American ships enter this area. The Americans are trying in every possible way to increase pressure on Russia, and not only on their own: they want to push other players to similar tactics and strategies - to use the same Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia.