The Black Sea gained key importance in the geopolitical race in ancient times, when the Greeks traveled along its shores (it is believed that the Argonauts were looking for the Golden Fleece). For many centuries, Greeks, Romans, Turks, Georgians, Armenians, Romanians, Bulgarians and other numerous and small peoples inhabited the shores of the Black Sea, leading the struggle for sea routes. The past of Russia is largely connected with the Black Sea region, especially with the Crimea. In the middle of the 19th century, during the Crimean War, the Ottoman, British, French empires and their European allies defeated the Russian Empire, whose losses amounted to half a million people, who died mainly from diseases and wounds.
The Crimea, which became part of the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, remains the center of tension between Russia and the West in the person of NATO. Russia formally annexed the Crimea and controls part of the south-eastern territory of Ukraine with the help of puppet forces and often thinks about creating a “land bridge” between Russian territory and the peninsula. The sanctions against Russia imposed as a result of the occupation and armed clashes (10 has already killed thousands) sanctions its economy and do not allow it to cooperate with the West in solving many problems, including the civil war in Syria.
Russia also occupied the territory of Georgia - another close NATO partner in the Black Sea region. Moscow gained control over two important Georgian regions — Abkhazia and South Ossetia — after a short-lived war in the 2008 year. No other non-NATO country has sent more soldiers per capita than Georgia to Afghanistan.
Finally, from a geopolitical point of view, the northern coast of Turkey, the extremely important Bosporus and Dardanelles, which separate the Aegean and Black Seas, and the coastlines of some other NATO allies are under pressure from the Russian Navy, whose ships are based in Sevastopol. This is an ice-free port that Russia has long dreamed of. Sevastopol - a window in the Mediterranean. Russia gained control over the bases of the Syrian coast, with the help of the Black Sea fleet it will spread its influence in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas and will compete with NATO, as is the case in the north in the Baltic Sea.
It is not only geopolitical, but Russia has economic reasons to press NATO and its partners. In addition to the discovery of oil and gas fields, Moscow is attracted by the construction of an oil pipeline that will connect the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas. Russia wants to control the Black Sea region economically in peacetime, but is ready to fight for it in the event of a conflict with the West.
What should NATO do to thwart Russian plans for a “southern sea”? The best way is to turn the Black Sea into a strategic zone of attention and make sure that NATO troops are able to act, are in positions and are ready both for peaceful operations and for participation in battles. The alliance is guided by similar principles in the Baltic Sea and in the Arctic.
First, NATO must develop a program for port calls, exercises and training. NATO ships will have to enter the ports of Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria more often, as well as make stops in Georgia and in the free coastal territory of Ukraine. This can be handled by a permanent NATO naval connection, which is based in the UK and consists of more 20 frigates, corvettes and minesweepers.
Secondly, the alliance should develop and finance an agreed plan of operations in the Black Sea. Some aspects have already been taken into account in other plans of NATO, but it is necessary to conduct a detailed analysis in order to prepare for gaining control over the sea and projecting force in its waters. The action plan should be developed jointly by the command of the British Navy and the command of the Allied forces in Naples. One of the main advantages of NATO is a well-established command structure. 29 countries have thousands of military 9, and this should be used when planning operations in the Black Sea.
Third, US forces should increase their presence, regardless of NATO operations. The United States has four powerful destroyers with the Aegis system, which are based in the Spanish port of Rota. They are intended for missile defense and for demonstrating power in the Mediterranean. Destroyers should more often appear in the Black Sea and conduct exercises with their allies.
Fourth, America needs to work closely with Turkey, which owns the key to the Black Sea, as it controls the straits. According to the Montreux Convention on the status of the Straits of 1936, the road to the Black Sea is tightly controlled, and Turkey refused to sign the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which will soften the standards to the level that applies to any straits of the world. Today, America and Turkey have strained relations, but they are crucial for any military strategy in the region that Washington will elect.
Finally, America can call on Western companies to invest in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. Oil and gas are key, but logistics, fiber optic cables, and other communications are just as important. Helping these countries connect their economies with both the Black Sea region and Europe, and America as a “soft power” can stabilize the region.
NATO has a lot of work to do in the Black Sea. Active strategic interaction and the development of economic relations is the best means that can be opposed to Russia's plans for the most important of all the southern seas.