Breaking the Blockade Risks War With Russia, by Daniel Larison

There are some U.S. officials who would like to kick off the shooting part of the U.S.-Russia war in the Black Sea. From Daniel Larison at antiwar.com:

Some US allies and Russia hawks in Washington are now agitating for the US and other members of NATO to use their naval forces break the Russian blockade of Ukraine. Retired Adm. James Stavridis is one of the latest advocates of this reckless idea, and he tries to sell it as an updated version of the US role in the Tanker War during the war between Iran and Iraq. The comparison is not a promising one. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is a more capable force than Iran’s navy was, Russia has repeatedly warned against outside interference in the war, and the Tanker War did not involve the possibility of setting off a war between NATO and a nuclear-armed major power.

Putting US and allied ships in harm’s way as escorts would be a serious mistake, not least because it runs significant risks of escalation if the escorting ships clash with Russian forces. Russia has a strong incentive to keep the blockade intact and they are unlikely to allow Western navies to break it without putting up serious resistance. Any proposal to break the blockade is an implicit call for committing acts of war against Russian forces with all the potentially disastrous consequences that come with it. Trying to break the blockade would be courting open war with Russia, which makes no more sense today than it did three months ago when the invasion began.

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