After the annexation and militarization of Crimea, it would take just a few hours for Russia to relieve Ukraine of its status of maritime power and to block the country from accessing the Black Sea. This was said by the Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament, Mykhailo Samus, during an interview with Radio Krym.Realii.
“Russia can easily, and within a few hours, block access to the sea for Ukraine and also deprive Ukraine of its maritime power status. We know the situation of the Ukrainian Navy after Crimea’s annexation and we know that after the peninsula’s militarization, Russia has all of the necessary tools needed for this,” Samus said.
He also noted that there is a problem with strengthening the US Navy group in the Black Sea. This is due to an agreement which prohibits the “creation of a permanent force in the region by non-Black Sea countries”.
“There are NATO countries that are now trying to do something. They include Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. However, these countries do not have any significant naval forces. Since 1936, the Montreux Convention has given Turkey the right to regulate the movement of military ships through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. As a result, it is impossible for American ships, and other NATO ships of non-Black Sea countries, to remain in the Black Sea for more than 21 days,” Samus explained.
On the 14th of June, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Alliance is continuously assessing the situation and is discussing ways to expand its presence in the Black Sea. He made this statement in Brussels, where a meeting of the defense ministers of NATO member countries was held. Stoltenberg said that with regard to this issue, negotiations are being held with the NATO member country of Romania as they have access to the Black Sea in the east.
Russia began its extensive militarization following the annexation of the Crimea in the spring of 2014. Concern over this was expressed by NATO member countries such as Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria. These countries plan to deepen cooperation and to discuss the possibility of creating a navy that can be integrated into NATO’s structures.