Tag Archives: Black Sea

US, NATO Consumed by ‘Black Sea Madness’, by Martin Sieff

The US government is in the grips of a delusion that it can operate in and control other countries’ waters in far-flung corners of the globe: the Baltic Sea, the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Black Sea. From Marin Sieff at strategic-culture.org:

Whom the gods would destroy, Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, they first make mad. What would Nietzsche make of the current, truly mad US and NATO obsession with charging into the Black Sea? It is a useful thought to ponder.

The Black Sea was far outside NATO’s traditional theater of operations for most of the Alliance’s history. However, Brussels and Washington have been piling up their military assets and visibility in the region like bees at a honey pot – or like a rogue herd of elephants charging off the edge of a cliff.

Yet NATO’s “In Your Face” presence in the Black Sea protects no one. On the contrary, it puts America’s allies in the region at grave risk by escalating tensions and increasing the danger that full scale war could break out by deliberately manufactured incident (Just think the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964) and or through a random error or clash that escalates out of control.

The US/NATO forward presence in the Black Sea is strategic madness. And it replicates parallel incendiary US exercises in fake macho stupidity against Beijing in the South China Sea: A region from which the Chinese people suffered invasion and societal collapse on a genocidal scale following defeats by Britain and France in the First Opium War (1839-42) and by Imperial Japan in its terrible invasion of summer 1937.

Washington seems equally intent on opening up a third front against Iran with its parallel forward policy in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

Three simultaneous wars against three major nations, two of which are the largest, most populous in the world and formidably nuclear armed? US grand strategy –insofar as there is one – seems to have national suicide as its only goal.

This is especially bizarre in the Black Sea: Washington’s strongest and most important ally in the region, Turkey is now on the brink of being expelled from NATO because of the Turkish government’s determination to buy Russia’s excellent S-400 air defense system, the best of its kind in the world.

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Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy, by Pepe Escobar

The notion of the US and the rest of its alliance intervening in the Black Sea isn’t dismissed out of hand as farfetched, but the notion of Russia steaming into, say, the Great Lakes is inconceivable. Why? From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

Crimea is essential to Russia strategically and economically, but speculation over Ankara helping to boost the US presence in the Black Sea is far-fetched given Turkey’s energy deals with Moscow

The frigate Admiral Essen from Russia's Black Sea Fleet returns to the permanent naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea. It was part of Russia's Mediterranean taskforce from August 2018, spending about 300 days at sea. Photo: AFP/ Alexey Malgavko / Sputnik

The frigate Admiral Essen from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet returns to the permanent naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea. It was part of Russia’s Mediterranean taskforce from August 2018, spending about 300 days at sea. Photo: AFP/ Alexey Malgavko / Sputnik

A power struggle over the Black Sea between Russia and the US plus NATO has the potential to develop as a seminal plot of the 21st century New Great Game – alongside the current jostling for re-positioning in the Eastern Mediterranean.

By now it’s established the US and NATO are stepping up military pressure from Poland to Romania and Bulgaria all the way to Ukraine and east of the Black Sea, which seems, at least for the moment, relatively peaceful, just as Crimea’s return to Russia starts to be regarded, in realpolitik terms, as a fait accompli.

After a recent series of conversations with top analysts from Istanbul to Moscow, it’s possible to identify the main trends ahead.

Just as independent Turkish analysts like Professor Hasan Unal are alarmed at Ankara’s isolation in the Eastern Mediterranean energy sphere by an alliance of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, Washington’s military buildup in both Romania and Bulgaria is also identified as posing a threat to Turkey.

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Putin warns US against misadventures, by M. K. Bhadadrakumar

Russia can take care of itself, and will do so if threatened. From M. K. Bhadadrakumar at indianpunchline.com:

(Russia’s President Vladimir Putin addresses an extended meeting of the Russian Defence Ministry Board in the National Defence Management Centre in Moscow, Dec 18, 2018)

The Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address to an expanded meeting of the Defence Ministry Board in Moscow on December 18 stands out as a tour d’horizon of the global strategic balance. The speech must be seen against the backdrop of the free fall in US-Russia relations, build-up of NATO infrastructure on Russia’s western borders and, in particular, the Trump administration’s statements about the US withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987.

Broadly, Putin’s message is in three directions:

The modernization of Russian armed forces has been most successful and the combat readiness of Russian military is at an all-time high level;

Russia has developed new hypersonic weapons of immense destructive power, which are going into serial production for deployment with the strategic nuclear forces to which the US simply has no answer;

Russia is determined to ensure that any US attempts to tilt the strategic balance in its favor will be effectively countered.

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Latest Odds of a Shooting War Between NATO and Russia, by Ann Garrison

The odds are climbing, says George Szamuely, in an interview with Ann Garrison at consortiumnews.com:

Hungarian scholar George Szamuely tells Ann Garrison that he sees a 70 percent chance of combat between NATO and Russia following the incident in the Kerch Strait and that it is being fueled by Russia-gate.

George Szamuely is a Hungarian-born scholar and Senior Research Fellow at London’s Global Policy Institute. He lives in New York City. I spoke to him about escalating hostilities on Russia’s Ukrainian and Black Sea borders and about Exercise Trident Juncture, NATO’s massive military exercise on Russian borders which ended just as the latest hostilities began.

Ann Garrison: George, the hostilities between Ukraine, NATO, and Russia continue to escalate in the Sea of Azov, the Kerch Strait, and the Black Sea. What do you think the latest odds of a shooting war between NATO and Russia are, if one hasn’t started by the time this is published?

George Szamuely: Several weeks ago, when we first talked about this, I said 60 percent. Now I’d say, maybe 70 percent. The problem is that Trump seems determined to be the anti-Obama. Obama, in Trump’s telling, “allowed” Russia to take Crimea and to “invade” Ukraine. Therefore, it will be up to Trump to reverse this. Just as he, Trump, reversed Obama’s policy on Iran by walking away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. So expect ever-increasing US involvement in Ukraine.

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Don’t Sweat It—-The Russian Fighters Were Unarmed And Lethal US Warships Were In Its Backyard, by Pater Tenebrarum

The headlines shout when US warships are buzzed by Russian military aircraft. The headlines never shout that the buzzings occur in places like the Black and Baltic Sea. Not that it would matter if they did, because most Americans don’t know where the Black and Baltic Seas are. If they bothered to look, they’d discover they are next to Russia. Next question: how would the average American feel about Russian warships in the Gulf of Mexico? From Pater Tenebrarum at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

Provocative Fighter Jocks

Back in 2014, a Russian jet made headlines when it passed several times close to the USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea. As CBS reported at the time:

“A Pentagon spokesperson told CBS Radio that a Russian SU-24 fighter jet made several low altitude, close passes in the vicinity of the USS Donald Cook in international waters of the western Black Sea on April 12. While the jet did not overfly the deck, Col. Steve Warren called the action “provocative and unprofessional.”

The jet was one of two Russian aircraft in the vicinity — the other flew at a higher altitude. The close-flying jet came within a few thousand feet of the USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer which was conducting a “routine mission” at the time. The U.S. ship tried to contact the plane’s cockpit, but received no response. The Russian plane, which the U.S. says was unarmed, made at least 12 passes. This continued for about 90 minutes. The event ended without incident.”

An unarmed plane making passes! Very provocative. Let’s briefly look at a map of the Black Sea:

The Black Sea, with the USS Donald Cook in it

Recently the same thing happened again, this time in the Baltic Sea. The Guardian reports:

“The US navy released photos and videos showing Russian SU-24 fighter jets flying low over the sea and “buzzing” the USS Donald Cook – a destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class – which carries guided missiles and which had just made a call at the Polish port of Gdynia.

According to the US European Command (Eucom) in Stuttgart, there were a number of such close encounters on Monday and Tuesday, involving both Russian fighter jets and helicopters, while the Donald Cook was in international waters in the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Poland. Those waters are also close to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.”

Assorted experts (of which we seem to have a nigh endless supply – the number of “think tanks” racking their brains over such things is astonishing) worry that such encounters could by mistake turn into something nasty. Perhaps, but we actually think the probability of that happening is negligible. Otherwise, Russia and Turkey would be at war already.

Let us take a look at a map of the Baltic Sea:

The Baltic Sea, with the USS Donald Cook in it. The red spot between Poland and Lithuania is actually Russian territory – the Kaliningrad enclave (formerly the German city of Königsberg).

These maps reveal clearly what the real problem is. The Russians have aggressively and provocatively built their country far too close to where the USS Donald Cook is sailing.

To continue reading: Don’t Sweat It—-The Russian Fighters Were Unarmed And Lethal US Warships Were In Its Backyard