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‘Storm Clouds’ Are Gathering over the Black Sea, Analyzes Indian Analyst

July 24, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—M.K. Bhadrakumar, a retired Indian diplomat with extensive experience in the countries of the former Soviet Union and environs, warned in a July 21 posting on his Indian Punchline blog that “storm clouds” are gathering over the Black Sea. The effort of the Kiev regime and NATO to develop new maritime routes in the Black Sea “is a serious development, as it seems a precursor to involving the NATO in some way to challenge Russia’s domain dominance in the Black Sea,” he wrote. “Indeed, the NATO’s Vilnius Summit Communiqué (July 11) had forecast that the alliance is gearing up for a vastly enhanced presence in the Black Sea region, which has been historically a Russian preserve, where [it] has important military bases.”

Four things should be noted in this regard, he says:

1) The Ukraine conflict has been singled out as the context; the focus is on Crimea;

2) “Freedom of navigation” means an assertive U.S. naval presence; reference to the 1936 Montreux Convention hinted at the role of Turkiye, both as a NATO member country and the custodian of the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits;

3) NATO signals its intention is to enhance its “situational awareness,” which as a military term involves four stages: observation, orientation, decision, and action. Situational awareness has two main elements, namely, one’s own knowledge of the situation and, secondly, one’s knowledge of what others are doing and might do if the situation were to change in certain ways. Simply put, NATO surveillance of Russian activities in the Black Sea will intensify; and,

4) NATO seeks closer cooperation with “our partners in the region” (read Ukraine).

A new NATO maritime route in the Black Sea would cut off Russia’s garrison in Transnistria; boost Kiev’s ability to strike at Crimea; and “NATO involvement would complicate any future Russian operations to liberate Odessa as well, which is historically a Russian city.”

NATO cannot give up Odessa and Russia cannot afford to cede control of the Black Sea to the alliance. “Clearly, the entire U.S. project on the new maritime route is intended to pre-empt Russia from gaining control of Odessa. It factors in the strong likelihood that with the Ukrainian offensive floundering, Russia may soon launch its counteroffensive in the direction of Odessa,” Bhadrakumar writes.

“From the Russian perspective, this becomes an existential moment. The NATO has virtually encircled the Russian Navy in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea (with the induction of Sweden and Finland as members). The freedom of navigation of the Baltic Fleet and the dominance in the Black Sea, therefore, become all the more crucial for Russia to freely access the world market round the year.”

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