When Russia began to attack Ukraine, the naval vessel of a prominent NATO affiliate in proximity was in the Mediterranean. Then, more than a month ago, the final ship from a prominent naval ally of the intergovernmental military alliance departed from the Black Sea.
The Black Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located between Europe and Asia. It is an area almost as big as California, which borders Russia, Ukraine, as well as NATO affiliates Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania.
As per information posted in Turkishnavy.net, a Turkish maritime website that navigates movements of foreign warships, a French warship finished a voyage in early January, and no key NATO naval affiliate has surveyed its waters since.
On the other hand, 16 Russian naval vessels, counting missile ships and vessels that can land tanks, had steered into the Black Sea, according to the website and Russian defense ministry statements.
While NATO rushed to reinforce Ukraine amid Russia’s attack, the Black Sea is highly exposed. Even with a stated settlement to daunt Russia, the military organization has not prevented it from developing a presence in the area.
In several interviews from a media outlet with diplomats, intelligence officials and security sources from NATO affiliates, military strategists, retired military commanders, and shipping industry officials, there’s a fundamental reason: a split opinion among members on whether to provoke the Russian navy in the area, leading to insufficiency in systematic and meaningful Black Sea NATO strategy.
In addition, there’s hesitation from a few NATO affiliates, including Turkey, to concur with maritime surveillance to prevent challenging Moscow, they added. Among others are limited budgets, and some NATO members have other priorities, they said.
The Russian naval presence in the Black Sea, which offers military and economic attachments over Kyiv, had been warping the maritime trade in Ukraine even before the attack.
“It’s like a boa constrictor around Ukraine’s neck, squeezing and squeezing and squeezing,” said James Foggo, retired US admiral who commanded US and NATO fleets in Europe for nearly a decade until 2020. “NATO needs a maritime strategy.”