Centre for Defence Strategies

The Black and Mediterranean Seas are vital areas for Russia that are relevant to all aspects of its geopolitical ambitions. Russia traditionally fulfils these ambitions with an emphasis on military means. Russia’s involvement in numerous wars over the past few centuries clearly confirms this. Immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia began implementing its strategy to regain control of the newly-independent states that used to be other Soviet republics. This culminated in the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014 – the first case of a European country seizing European territory since World War II. Russia’s interest in the peninsula was primarily related to the possibility of restoring a huge Russian military base on the peninsula. Russia aims at the guaranteed military control of the peninsula and the marine environment around it, as well as the restoration of the former military hegemony of the USSR in the Black Sea region and beyond. The military scenario of actions in the Mediterranean Sea describes the potential implementation of the Kremlin’s geopolitical interests in the naval sphere in that region, in particular in order to contain NATO forces in the region.

This scenario also provides for Russia’s support for frozen conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa which are beneficial to it.

This study aims to facilitate the visualization of Russia’s military ambitions and provide separate proposals for countering them to both the Ukrainian authorities and their partners. Understanding Russia’s capabilities and intentions will help Ukraine, its partner countries, and NATO to develop their defence strategies and coordinate joint efforts.