EDITORIAL

A significant marine “movement”

In the last three weeks, two marine “movements” could be noticed, having their significance as signals precisely addressed. It is undoubtable that they are a  prove of the existing volatile situation at the global level, as well as of the system hegemony’s will to prevent the serious deterioration of the international stability. Last week, for instance, one of these movements took place in the South China Sea. The American aircraft carrier “John C. Stennis” was there since three months ago (since April) for patrolling, in the context of growing tensions within the port waters. Its mission came due to China’s construction of several artificial islands in this sea, whose territorial waters can change the geopolitical structure of the port waters, therefore they can change its full control. On June 5, this aircraft carrier has left South China Sea, moving to the Philippine Sea, were it joined another American aircraft carrier, “Ronald Reagan”, then both of them performed unusual marine maneuvers. As a US Navy official mentioned, such a proof of capabilities is rare, namely two carrier strike groups jointly operating I the same port waters. Referring to a concomitant similar dislocation (two groups of aircraft carriers) in the Mediterranean Sea, he mentioned that these are sign of „U.S. commitment to regional security”. The second event, not so important comparing to the one aiming to demonstrate the control on the West Pacific, took place two weeks ago in the Black Sea waters. Yet, its smaller amplitude wasn’t less significant. First, we should notice that, in geostrategic terms, Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea form a single port waters area, the latter having an output to the world’s oceans through the first one (Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits). Namely, in the port of Sevastopol   in Crimea has arrived a frigate belonging to the Russian fleet of the Baltic Sea. Here’s what USNI (US Naval Institute) released on June 9, 2016, under the signature of a specialist of the area (Sam LaGrone): “The first in a new class of Russian guided missile frigate arrived on Thursday to Sevastopol marking the first time the Black Sea Fleet has seen a new blue water warship since the end of the Cold War.The Project 11356-class Admiral Grigorovich arrived in Crimea, the first of several new surface ships the Russian Navy intends to base in the Black Sea.”

Few explanations related to this second event are necessary. As everybody knows, since 2008, when, as a consequence of the Russian – Georgian war, other two players not acknowledged at the international level have appeared, namely the separatist republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (without having an output to the seashore), until the unexpected occupancy of the Crimea peninsula by Russia on March 2014, the Extended Black Sea area met unique developments. In terms of economy, the port waters suddenly became an economic bridge between East and West, more precisely it hosted a real network of hydrocarbs transportation pipelines – especially gas – from Central Asia and Caucasus to Europe. The economy of gas and oil transportation on the East – West route also has an important geopolitical significance, since the routes crossing the Black Sea are designed to reduce Europe’s dependency on the Russian  supplies, which registered in the last years a development that the strategic analyzes qualify “weaponization”. Transportation routes of the natural gas imagined by Russia, like South Stream, connecting the Russian seaside  to the Bulgarian one, in order to transport gas to the Central and Western Europe through Greece and Serbia, or Blue Stream (in case of Sofia’s abandon related to the first project), between Russia and Turkey, a recently abandoned project due to the serious tensions between these two states, indicate Moscow’s interest to control the Black Sea port waters. At the same time, the actions performed by Russia for arming Crimea peninsula highlight the same constant interest that Moscow has to control the area and to massively change its strategic landscape. From the perspective of the huge interest recently shown for the Black Sea area, we also have to mention that today, Gazprom performs an energetic activity of identifying new transport routes for the Russian hydrocarbs in this area, in order to be able to deliver sufficient quantities in the Southern and Western Europe – a sort of symmetric pair of North Stream designed to connect Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea.

According to the information we have, the new Russian frigate to the Black Sea is the first one that arrived in Sevastopol out of six frigates who were planned to be built since 2014 (three of them following to be exported). Another similar frigate that is also going to be assigned to the Black Sea Fleet, was included last week into the Russian fleet. Along with the six frigates, the Russian fleet modernization program to the Black Sea, launched in 2014, amounting almost USD 3 billion, also includes other ships, such as a missile cruiser. The frigate in the Admiral Grigorovich class (4,000 tones) is specialized in multi-mission surface combatant, being also capable to develop anti-submarine and anti-aircraft operations. An important thing especially for the other Black Sea riparian countries and not only for them, is that the ship is equipped with Russian Kalibr NK cruise missile, first time used in 2015 in the well-known “Caspian Salvo”. Within this operation in October 2015, Russian navy has launched cruise missiles installed on ships, from international waters to Syrian targets from a distance of 900 nautical miles. According to some specialists, on this occasion, the Russian specialists have proven „their ability to coordinate theater wide operations that they haven’t demonstrated in decades”. According to other analyzes, proving to recover in detail the amplitude of the movement of the Soviet military forces and equipment along the entire NATO Eastern border, starting to March 2014, when the annexation of Crimea massively tensioned Moscow’s relations with the West, the Russian Black Sea fleet was also equipped with other ships that are capable to strike targets located in the Western area of Pontus Euxinus. They can do this, as they did in the Caspian Sea on last October, from the own or the international water ports, according to the current international regulations, striking targets located at a distance of 2,500-3,000 km. or even at 5,000 km. In other words, they are capable to cover the entire Romanian territory and much more. One of these credible sources mentioned that: : “Between 2014 and 2015, the Black Sea Fleet received eight new units (including four Kilo-class submarines and two Buyan-class corvettes with the possibility of launching Kalibr (NATO: Klub) missiles with a range of up to 2,600 km”.

The developments in the Black Sea area must be very carefully followed in the very next period of time and, of course, the officials in charge have to weigh the necessary replying actions. It would be unforgivable in terms of morality and history not to be so.

 

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