Центр оборонних стратегій

Ukrainian storm warning: A Grave Danger to Europe in the Maritime Domain

The Black Sea region’s security environment has dramatically deteriorated. Having militarized Crimea, Russia has achieved its dominance in the Black Sea and renewed its power projection ability into the Middle East, Northern Africa, and the Eastern Mediterranean. Along with the undeclared war in Donbas, this illegal annexation is an additional hot spot on Europe’s frontier.

Russia’s expanded missile, naval and air force capabilities, including nuclear, are security threats to Europe as a whole and an apple of discord between allies. With the approval of its new nuclear posture, the Black Sea region de jure has become an arena of nuclear confrontation and there has been an increased likelihood of an incident that could potentially lead to conflict that involves Russian use of tactical nuclear weapons.

Though this paper is focused primarily on the Black Sea, it is worth noting that Russia is contesting the Barents Sea and the Baltic Sea for it has similar interests. Thus, it is necessary to see the Kremlins actions in distant geographic areas as elements of its grand design and to respond in a comprehensive manner.

Ukraine is extremely vulnerable to maritime threats and might face grave consequences as a result of Russian actions at sea that might be considered below the threshold of military aggression. Thus, it is high time for Ukraine and its partners to forge a common Black Sea strategy and take immediate action in a coherent and coordinated manner to counter the growing threats posed by the Kremlin’s aggressive policies.

The paper sets the wider strategic framework that allows to grasp the state of play, describes key stakeholders’ interests, introduces scenarios’ constructor as well as outlines key ideas of a strategy to develop.