The squadron of the US Sixth Fleet has been actively maneuvering off the coast of Crimea for the second week. Expanding its military presence here, the Pentagon is pinning special hopes on regional allies: according to international standards, countries with access to the Black Sea are not subject to restrictions on total tonnage. How the Americans can take advantage of this – in the material of RIA Novosti.
Recently, the command ship Mount Whitney entered the port of Batumi. The guests were greeted with jubilation – as in August 2008, right after the “five-day war”. Then the floating headquarters of the US Navy delivered humanitarian aid and mysterious cargoes to Georgia in sealed army containers.
Over the past 13 years, NATO countries have substantially restored the military potential of their main ally in the Transcaucasus. In particular, another batch of Javelin anti-tank missile systems was delivered this year. There are also several Pentagon training centers operating in the country.
But Washington, appare-ntly, is not enough. In early November, Republican senators called on Joe Biden to expand the presence of the US Navy in the Black Sea, predictably justifying this by the need to “fight Rus-sian aggression.” But, ac-cording to the Montreux C-onvention of 1936, the total tonnage of military vessels of any non-Black Sea state in the Black Sea in peacetime cannot exceed 30 thousand tons. The current grouping of the Sixth Fleet barely fits into this limit.
All hope is on the Black Sea allies. But the same Georgian fleet is only two corvettes and several artillery and missile boats.
Ukraine also has a poor naval potential. Washington has already provided its Eastern European ally with outdated Island-class boats and plans to transfer a dozen modern Mark VIs. In addition, Kiev signed a contract with Ankara for the construction of three corvettes of the Ada project. But so far the backbone of the Ukrainian Navy is the Hetman Sagaidachny patrol boat, the only large ship, and seven artillery armored boats of the Gyurza-M type. This is clearly not enough to test the strength of the Crimean defensive lines, as NATO officers often talk about.
The Bulgarian Navy is also participating in the exercises with the US Sixth Fleet. For several days the American naval group was accompanied by the Bulgarian frigate Proud, one of three relatively modern Wilingen-class pennants. Each has four Exocet anti-ship missiles – good fire support for American flagships. The Bulgarians have two more corvettes, three missile boats, several minesweepers and auxiliary vessels.
The Romanian Navy has three frigates, four corvett-es, six missile boats and five minesweepers. At first glance, sparse. However, the Romanian ships will still come in handy for the united naval grouping of NATO countries if it suddenly becomes “hot” in the south of Europe. In the event of a full-scale conflict between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance in the Black Sea, they will obviously cover the Americans from air raids.
Turkey has the largest naval potential in the regi-on: 13 submarines, 16 missile frigates, ten corvettes, an impressive force of naval aviation and marines.
True, all this is “smea-red” over two seas: the Me-diterranean and the Black. But even the Black Sea gr-oup is capable of opposing the Russian Black Sea Fleet on equal terms. In addition, it is Turkey that controls the strategic Bosphorus and, in fact, acts as the guarantor of the US military presence. However, the Turks sent only one frigate to the joint exercises.
According to experts, this may be a consequence of the long-standing conflict between Ankara and Washington. Recall that Pr-esident Recep Tayyip Erdo-gan bought several sets of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia, w-hich the Americans did not like much. They responded by excluding “allies in the alliance” from the F-35 fifth generation fighter program. In addition, both countries treat Kurds differently in northern Syria. In a word, Turkey is also a very dubious assistant.
A series of provocations
Meanwhile, NATO, even with a small force, continues to create tensions on the southern shores of Russia. The Ministry of Defense notes that the reconnaissance aircraft of the North Atlantic Alliance has dramatically increased activity near the borders. On Friday alone, Russian radars detected and escorted six special aircraft from Western countries. This has been going on since early October.
“What are American ships and planes doing in the Black Sea thousands of miles from their bases?” Asks Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. “No explanation that all this is for the sake of freedom of navigation does not work. We are truly alarmed by what is happening in the Black Sea region, this incessant series of provocations carried out by the United States and NATO allies, as well as some of the clients of these states in the region.”
At the same time, according to official statements, within the framework of the exercises, the ships of the naval forces of the NATO countries are working out joint anti-missile and anti-submarine defense, coordination of the actions of a multinational formation, reconnaissance of the nearest – Russian – coast and, of course, strikes on sea and coastal targets of the “probable enemy”.
In response to the maneuvers of the “Western partners” Russian sailors carry out their own. Thus, the frigate “Admiral Essen” completed the tasks of air defense of the naval base, and the ships “Yeisk” and “Kasimov” destroyed conditional targets imitating enemy submarines.