Washington, DC—With the recent addition of six landing ships to the Russian Black Sea fleet and intensive troop movements by Russian forces in northern Crimea, The Jamestown Foundation today expresses deep concern about what seem to be preparations for a major ground and naval assault on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. Jamestown President Glen Howard is alarmed that no US or other non-littoral NATO warships are presently operating in the Black Sea, nor are any seemingly planned for deployment. That conspicuous absence sharply reduces NATO and Ukraine’s ability to deter the Kremlin on this important maritime front.
Howard pointed to the fact that, with the threat of Russian invasion looming, not only does the US not have any naval assets in the theater but reportedly has not even placed a request with Turkey to send any warships to the Black Sea. As dictated by the 1936 Montreux Convention, non-littoral states are required to log an official request at least 15 days in advance if they intend to send naval vessels through the Turkish Straits into the Black Sea.
Echoing these concerns, Jamestown board member and former Supreme Allied Commander Philip Breedlove said that the military buildup in Crimea “has all the features of a potential amphibious assault on Ukraine.” He added, “It is important that NATO develops an increased pattern of presence in the Black Sea, as US and NATO presence assures allies, creates a deterrent effect on Russia, as well as enhances Ukrainian naval security.” Breedlove expressed hope that “NATO and the US will begin to treat this Black Sea naval threat with greater urgency.”