Kerch 2.0: Military exercises in the Black Sea – Unnecessary provocation or escalation of conflict?
By Vladimir Gujanicic
By Vladimir Gujanicic for FRN – Given that the war on the land in the south-east of Ukraine has long since faded into a mysterious position without the promised victory of Ukrainian politicians, the leadership of Ukraine was placed entirely for the purpose of a weapon in the war against Russia.
Without reaching that victory, the Ukrainian authorities, in coordination with the Western countries, have raised tensions with various provocations holding the conflict open for the international community, not wanting to recognize the factual situation. The curiosity of such decisions is primarily due to the fact that these actions do not have any military-political origin, other than raising tensions and making new media sensations that will not change the situation on the ground.
One of the biggest provocations of the Ukrainian side was the attempted passage of armed Ukrainian ships beneath the Kerch Bridge, which ended with the capture of 24 crew members by the forces of the Russian Federation. An attempt to penetrate Russian territorial waters ended with Russia’s affirmation of its maritime sovereignty, and the incident served the Ukrainian authorities and their Western allies for further media escalation of the conflicts against Russia.
Plans for further provocation, obviously, were not put out of the table. One of the confirmations of this is the announced naval exercise of the NATO forces and the Ukrainian navy in the Black Sea in June-July. According to the announcements of Ukraine and America, they should take part in the participation of 900 naval personnel, 30 ships and 30 aircraft. Participants in the exercise announced the United Kingdom, Canada, Georgia, Denmark, Moldova, Norway and Poland.
On the occasion of the announcement of the forthcoming conferences, a large international conference in Sofia was organized by the “Black Sea Institute” from Burgas, held from June 5-6 with the participation of representatives of the European Parliament, deputy of the Bulgarian Parliament and leading experts from Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, Norway, Romania and Turkey. The conclusion of the conference participants is that it is necessary to calm down the tensions in the Black Sea. Unfortunately, some countries like the United States continues to send their ships to the Black Sea area in order to keep up the tensions before the forthcoming Sea Breeze exercises.
However, all the leaders of European countries do not agree with “putting oil on fire”. German Prime Minister Angela Merkel opposes the sending of German ships to the Black Sea, unlike German Defense Minister Ursula von der Lainen, who wants to meet the demands of America.
What does America and Ukraine want to achieve with a new potential incident, posed as a question? Here are a few options:
The Ukrainian Navy itself does not pose any threat to the Russian Navy, so that a repeated independent attempt to pass under the Kerch Bridge without the protection of America does not make any sense. A possible attempt to jointly move with NATO forces could aim at humiliating Russia on the international scene in case it fails here and does not confirm its military and legal supremacy over the region.
It is also quite possible that Russia will proceed to concessions and spread the framework of the mine settlement agreement to the demilitarization of the Azov Sea, provided that the mediator of the action is the European Union, which is by no means in the interest of further escalation of the conflict that could jeopardize the maritime transit from the Black Sea. If the new President of Ukraine Zelensky wants to continue with European integration, he will have to work synergically with the EU. The following month will reveal the meaning of the announced events in the Black Sea area.