The Black Sea is an indispensable part of the geo-economic strategy of Russia. It is vital to project the power and impact of Russia in the Mediterranean. The Black sea is further helpful to safeguard its economy by maintaining trade with key European business sectors and making southern Europe more reliant on Russian oil and gas.
As Russia has been invading Ukraine, the importance of the Black Sea is further highlighted these days. During the invasion one of the missile cruisers named Moskva sank in the black sea. It is not clear as to how Moskva sank; whether due to missiles launched by Ukraine or due to a fire abroad. Regardless, the loss of Moskva has been reported as a significant loss for Russia as it signifies its loss of control over the Black sea.
Here is how the Black is extremely crucial to Russia and its strategy and how the loss of Moskva will further impact the events in the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Where Is The Black Sea Located?
The Black Sea is situated between Europe and Asia, flanked by Turkey in the south, Russia-acquired Crimea in the northern region, Russia and Georgia in the eastern region, and Bulgaria and Romania in the western region. Although the close oval-molded Black Sea is the smallest sea on the planet, it is connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the Bosporus Strait, which separates Istanbul (and Turkey) into the European and Asian sides, and the Mediterranean Sea.
The ocean additionally houses the port of Sevastopol, which is a key piece of the Russian military foundation. It was obtained when Russia had annexed Crimea from Ukraine in the year 2014.
History Of The Black Sea
The Black Sea Fleet has a long history and is considered to have been established back in 1783. It involves warships of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and the eastern Mediterranean, and is settled at Sevastopol, the significant port in Crimea.
Despite the fact that Crimea turned out to be essential for Ukraine after the USSR fell, the Russian Navy kept on having its base in Sevastopol as a feature of an arrangement between the two nations. Russia acquired Crimea in the year 2014.
Importance Of The Black Sea
Russia is dependent on the Black Sea in order to reach the Mediterranean region, which it considers to be NATO-dominated. However, the region also offers a lot of opportunities to develop diplomatic, military as well as economic relations with major countries in that area. Russia has succeeded in doing so with Syria and is now aiming for other countries like Egypt, Israel, Turkey, etc. These make the Black Sea a strategy for the domination of military and economic power in the world and hence, the Black Sea is very crucial for the Russians.
According to ‘The Naval Power Shift in the Black Sea’, a paper written on strategy, the director of the Institute of Russia Maritime Studies said, ”While the Black Sea Fleet assists with the defense of southern maritime approaches to Russia, it also allows Moscow to use the Black Sea as a jumping-off point into the eastern and central Mediterranean. From Moscow’s perspective, these activities enable its diplomacy and power projection into areas where Russia previously had limited influence, and they retard what Russia believes is US and NATO efforts to destabilize its partners in places like Syria.”
The Black Sea In The Russia Ukraine Conflict
Attempts to gain control over the whole of the Black Sea have been made since 2014. In the ongoing conflict, the domination of the Black Sea has always been a major objective for Russia. According to Gen Richard Barrons who was formerly the UK Joint Forces Commander, building a land bridge to Crimea will give Russia access to about 80% of the entire Black Sea.
What Was The Immediate Effect Of The Loss Of Moskva?
The sinking of Russia’s ship was marked to be a game-turning event. It damped down the morale of Russia’s army while at the same time giving some hope to Ukraine’s defense army. It also diminished the military superiority of Russia. It was regarded as the heaviest loss to a country’s navy ever since 1982. The last such naval loss was suffered in the Falkland wars when Argentina’s air force drowned a Missile destroyer of the British.
Expert’s Take On The Loss Of Moskva
Although the loss of the ship was a significant blow to Russia experts do not believe that this will cause a significant impact on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. After the ship, Moskva caught fire, five other ships of Russia which were present in the Northern region of the Black Sea, were moved about 80 nautical miles away from the coast. However, according to experts, the ships were still located in such a way that they could carry out attacks on Ukraine while Ukraine could not target the ships.
According to the Institute for the study of War, ISW which is based in Washington Ukraine’s ability to hit Russian ships in the Black Sea would actually force the Russian navy to make use of some other additional air forces and other military weapons which would be furthermore harmful to Ukraine.
However, it also must be noted that Russia had only two other ships which were of the same class as Moskva which was lost. Neither of these two ships can be used against Ukraine now as Turkey would not let them enter the Black Sea at such a time.