On Tuesday, Russian naval forces in the Black Sea participated in exercises to destroy enemy targets, amid Russian alarm over the presence of two US warships, which threatens to increase tensions in the region.
President Vladimir Putin said , on Monday, that Russian forces will closely monitor the US command ship Mount Whitney, expressing concern about the activity of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “NATO” near the Russian border.
On Tuesday, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted the Black Sea Fleet as saying its ships had trained to destroy enemy targets and that air defense systems were on standby at its bases in Novorossiysk and in Crimea .
Russia had previously warned Western countries against sending its warships to the Black Sea and approaching the coast of Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014 and is recognized internationally as part of Ukraine .
On Monday, the US Navy said the ship, Mount Whitney, had arrived in Istanbul and that it would soon join other ships in the Black Sea .
Later, the Kremlin rejected a US media report about a Russian military build-up near Ukraine, describing it as “false and of low value”, although it said that moving troops on Russian soil was a matter for Moscow .
According to the Politico news website, satellite images captured on Monday confirmed recent reports that Russia is mobilizing forces and military equipment again on the border with Ukraine, after a large buildup during the spring.
From sea to air
On October 20, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that two Russian fighters had prevented two American planes from violating the airspace over the Black Sea.
The Center for National Defense Administration said that two Russian Su-30 fighters escorted two American B-1B strategic bombers over the Black Sea, heading towards the Russian border, and as a result, the American pilots changed their course.
The center added, in a statement: “Russian radars detected targets over the Black Sea on October 19, approaching the borders of Russia.”
He explained that “to identify air targets and prevent violation of the state borders of the Russian Federation, two Su-30 combat aircraft of the alternate forces of naval aviation and air defense of the Black Sea Fleet were sent into the air. The two Russian fighters identified the targets as two American B-1B bombers and two transport planes. KS-135, and escorted them over the Black Sea.”
The center pointed out that “after the departure of foreign military aircraft from the borders of the Russian Federation, the Russian fighters returned to their base safely, and it was not allowed to violate the state borders.”
“Massive” military exercises
At the end of last June, Ukraine and the United States carried out massive military exercises with the participation of 30 countries in the Black Sea and southern Ukraine, despite Russian objection.
The “Sea Breeze 2021” exercise came in the wake of escalating tensions between NATO and Moscow, which said it would respond, “if necessary, to protect its national security.”
Relations between Kiev and Moscow deteriorated after the annexation of Crimea and because of Russia’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The maneuvers caused a side crisis between Russia and Britain, as Moscow said that the border guards fired warning shots and bombs after a British warship breached the country’s borders off the coast of the Crimea, while the British army denied the matter, stressing that it had entered an internationally recognized shipping lane.
Russia is seeking to increase its hegemony over the Black Sea basin as a vital area that ensures the continuation of its strategic interests, which are reflected in many files such as energy transmission lines, military fleet bases, areas of regional security and trade, and more hegemony in order to open the way for access to the Mediterranean and impede the influence of NATO and the West in the region.
As part of these endeavors, Russia has increased the number of its fleet in the Black Sea to 25,000 soldiers, 21 large warships, 7 submarines, and 200 support ships, and more than 28,000 naval forces have been sent to the region.
Professor of Political Sociology at the American University, Said Sadiq, said that the Black Sea region may witness skirmishes such as the entry of a boat into territorial waters or a plane into the airspace, while ruling out an outright war.
Sadiq added, in statements to “Sky News Arabia”, that Russia aims to “freeze conflicts” in the Black Sea and Crimea, not war, as Putin knows that by turning the volatile waters of the Black Sea into a potential battlefield, he ends any hope of restoring Relations with the West.
He explained that the Russian supremacy in eastern Europe represents a political knot for the US administration , as the Black Sea cannot penetrate it, despite it being an area of vital interests for it.
He explained that America is besieging Russia in other ways, such as entering into projects related to the Black Sea, to prevent potential competitors from turning into real opponents, and forming regional alliances against its hegemony, as well as preventing the expansion of Russian influence