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West cannot guarantee Black Sea protection to Ukraine

Monday, June 24, 2019

Significance

Russia has spent the last year choking commercial shipping's access to Ukraine's Mariupol and Berdyansk ports on the Sea of Azov. As Russia increases its naval power in the Black Sea through quiet build-ups and visible shows of strength, NATO has opted for caution, to avoid escalation, and in view of constraints on warship deployment. A possible US decision to supply Ukraine with coastal missiles seems to be as far as arms supplies for Black Sea defence will go.

Impacts

  • The weakness of Ukraine's navy has become painfully obvious, limiting its realistic options in case of Russian aggression.
  • With naval shipbuilding in disarray, foreign purchases are an option but potential sellers will be deterred by the geopolitics.
  • Eastern Ukraine's industrial economy will suffer more as port access is slowly strangled.
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