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Russia Plans To Take Over Black Sea: RAND Fuels ‘Russian Threat’ Fears

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Russia Plans To Take Over Black Sea: RAND Fuels 'Russian Threat' Fears

In September 2019, RAND Corporation released a report named “Russia, NATO, and Black Sea Security Strategy,” focused on what Russia allegedly wants in the Black Sea region and how the US and NATO should counter it.

The report is a result of a workshop that took place on March 22nd, 2019 in Bucharest, Romania, as well as subsequent research. [pdf]

The report is quite dramatic, with statements such as “The Black Sea region is a central locus of the competition between Russia and the West for the future of Europe.”

Russia, furthermore, according to the workshop and experts Stephen J. Flanagan, Irina A. Chindea, is using informational, economic, energy, and clandestine instruments to advance its goals of transforming the Black Sea, along with the Sea of Azov, into virtual internal waterways, where Russia can have the kind of freedom of action it has achieved in the Caspian Sea.

The report furthermore claims that Russia is using S-400 missile defense systems and other coastal defense to consolidate “ownership” of the region, in addition to unconfirmed reports of restoring nuclear weapon storage sites. The report came short of mentioning the unconfirmed reports of the Russian security service – the FSB allegedly using a radioactive green laser to irradiate the Ukrainian coast guard.

“Since 2015, Russia has deployed Bastion mobile coastal defense missile systems and the most advanced air defense missile system in Russia’s inventory, the S-400 Triumph, to augment other capabilities. The reactivation of early-warning radar stations and deployment of advanced electronic-warfare equipment also support the development of a more effective Russian Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) network. There are also unconfirmed reports from Ukrainian sources that Russia has made preparations to restore nuclear weapons storage sites in Crimea for possible support of missile and strategic aviation forces.”

Furthermore, based on mostly unconfirmed reports and speculation, a key finding is the following, the two key findings of the report are the following:

  • Russia’s occupation and militarization of Crimea, modernization of the Black Sea Fleet, and expanded forces in the Southern Military District have strengthened its leverage in the region and its power-projection capabilities into the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant;
  • Moscow’s overall objectives are tailored to conditions in each country in the region, with goals of keeping various neighbors in states of nonalignment or insecurity relative to Russia and the West and open to Russian economic, political, and malign influences.

The report focuses on the modernization of the Black Sea Fleet. The authors emphasize that since 2014 it has been replenished with six corvettes, six submarines of Project 636 Varshavyanka and three multipurpose patrol ships of Project 11356: Admiral Grigorovich, Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov. The last three are carriers of Kalibr cruise missiles capable of hitting targets throughout the Black Sea.

All this, according to RAND, allows the Kremlin to create a so-called restricted access zone in the region, in which NATO forces will suffer unreasonably high losses during a military clash.

That is also entirely based on speculation.

In conclusion, the rather short and fictious report gives the following recommendations:

  • Since there is no purely military solution to security in the Black Sea, an effective Western strategy must first do better in competing with Russia for aspirations of citizens in the region. This requires more effective and better integrated strategic communications efforts, as well as efforts to counter cyber and hybrid threats.
  • There is also a need for a more credible and sustainable military deterrent posture. Rather than attempting to match Russian military capabilities across the board, NATO and like-minded partners in the region could enhance deterrence by deploying advanced air defense and coastal defense systems in Romania and Bulgaria to counter the effectiveness of Russian offensive missile threats across the Black Sea. Continued assistance to Ukraine and Georgia in the development of their national defense capabilities also contributes to regional deterrence.
  • Ad-hoc bilateral partnerships on mutual priorities with opt-ins and opt-outs for potential spoilers, bringing in NATO and the EU where and when possible, is another possible path to advance regional cooperation.
  • More visible EU and Western engagement in the region on nonmilitary issues, including reenergized peace negotiations and support of economic projects, regional infrastructure, and integration initiatives would also help to counter Russian influence.
  • Finding ways to move the “fight” outside the Black Sea region is another possibility. Like-minded allies and partners might try to identify other regions and issues where Russian interests are vulnerable, and then let the Kremlin know that further aggression in the Black Sea region will be countered in other areas of concern.

Notably, bringing the “fight” outside the Black Sea is an interesting statement, since there’s currently no fight in the Black Sea, so the continuous fearmongering war talk is quite apparent.

The focus on Ukraine and Georgia is expected, but it has, so far, led to quite little. In that regard, there is a recommendation to provide more advanced coastal defense systems to Romania, similar to the Aegis Ashore system that can be repurposed to launch nuclear-capable Tomahawk missiles. There are recommendations to also position such advanced defense systems to Bulgaria.

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  • Dick Von Dast’Ard

    Surprising that a country that has such severe govt spending deficit issues as the U.S. has already, wants to continue throwing resources at a problem that only exists if they want it to be a problem.

  • chris chuba

    During the Cold War even Reagan was more or less content to let the Black Sea be a Russian lake with the occasional nuisance patrol of a missile ship. Now the future of Europe is at stake if the dastardly Russians are able to have anything resembling serious firepower in their own backyard. The article should read, ‘The Russians are thwarting NATO control of the Black Sea’.

    • Pave Way IV

      I suppose the Russian plan to build a massive naval port on Lake Superior isn’t going to go over very well in Washington, D.C. either. Sneaky Canadians! You know the deal: now we’ll have to invade and take all Canada’s gold. Sorry – it’s what we do.

      • Pave Way IV

        [sarc] of course – Canadians are at war with Russia.

      • JustPassingThrough

        CA sold all its gold a long time ago.
        No need to invade

        You can have the PM along with his UE Minister of Foreign Affairs as a consolation prize.

      • verner

        and since the morons in washington dc is busy arming taiwan china can get busy arming Cuba – fair tit for tat! would think so.

        the Black Sea is a problem for the morons since the the montreaux convention regulates how long a non-riparian state can have its vessel in the black sea. there are no such limitations in the west indies and I suppose Russia can have any number of nukes in Venezuela, should matters get worse while I doubt Romania or Bulgaria would be happy to lend its land to such nefarious dealings of nato or the unhinged states of A.

  • JustPassingThrough

    RAND = Research ANd Development
    founded by Douglas Aircraft > military think (/sarc) tank.
    can’t expect much more out of this bunch of knuckle-draggers.

  • AM Hants

    Rand – who sent Porkie, over in Ukraine a list of orders, when he became President. How many were meant to be cleaned out in the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Eastern Ukraine?

  • Luis

    The Black Sea is a Russian lake since 1783, or am I missing something?

  • RichardD

    This reportNATO’s eastern expansion dwarfs anything that the Russians have done to counter it. I assume that the report completely ignores that in it’s malign attempt to portray Russian defensive measures as aggression against Europe. When in fact they’re in response to NATO encroachment on Russia’s borders. Russia didn’t start the civil wars in Ukraine and Georgia, NATO did. The Russians reacted to them defensively.

  • RichardD

    “RAND Corporation:
    http://www.rand.org/about.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAND_Corporation

    James A. Thomson(White European) – President and Chief Executive Officer
    http://www.rand.org/about/people/t/thomson_james_a.html

    Michael D. Rich(Ashkenazi Jew) – Executive Vice President
    http://www.rand.org/about/people/r/rich_michael_d.html

    Paul G. Kaminski(Ashkenazi Jew) – Chairman, Board of Trustees
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Paul_G._Kaminski

    – Who Controls America?
    Who Controls the Think Tanks? –

    https://thezog.wordpress.com/who-controls-the-think-tanks/

  • RichardD

    I skimmed the Rand pdf. It look like a complete joke written by ziocon hacks. Nowhere does it talk about NATO’s eastward expansion after the fall of the Soviet Union as an obvious threat to Russia. With Russia’s military upgrades being a defensive response to it. And it tries to white wash NATO’s instigation of the Georgian and Ukraine wars.