Centre for Defence Strategies

The Black Sea is one of the most important regions for the implementation of Russia’s geopolitical plans to establish dominance in the post-Soviet space and to counter NATO forces in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and North Africa. Russia is building up forces in the peninsula, turning Crimea into a giant Soviet-style military base, and generating military force for projection outside of the region.

Russia’s intensive militarization of Crimea in 2014-2021 changed the balance of power in the Black Sea region in favour of Russia. During the seven years of the illegal annexation of Crimea, the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation gradually strengthened its naval capabilities in the Black Sea. They increased the number of new ships and support vessels in the region by thirty units, which is significantly more than in the Baltic and Northern Fleets. Such rates of introduction of new ships into the Black Sea Fleet will increase the total strike capacity of Russian surface groups in the Black Sea. In addition, over the past three years, Russia has accomplished the redeployment of its ships to Crimea from the North, Baltic, and Caspian Seas, which further strengthens its capabilities in the region.

As shown in this paper, Crimea is once again gaining the features of a gigantic Soviet-era military base, whose forces are directed against NATO and individual members of the Alliance, primarily against the United States and Great Britain.