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Dangerous Maneuvers: What’s Behind NATO Military Buildup in Black Sea

© AFP 2021 / DANIEL MIHAILESCUWar ships of the NATO Standing Maritime Group-2 take part in a military drill on the Black Sea, 60km from Constanta city March 16, 2015
War ships of the NATO Standing Maritime Group-2 take part in a military drill on the Black Sea, 60km from Constanta city March 16, 2015 - Sputnik International
The NATO buildup in the Black Sea is part of the alliance's strategy to expand its military presence along Russia's borders. The move would destabilize the situation in the region, analysts say.

A permanent NATO military presence in the Black Sea would be destabilizing and undermine security in the region, Russian Foreign Ministry official Andrey Kelin said.

Soldiers of the US Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment deployed in Estonia as a part of the US military's Operation Atlantic Resolve, arrive during the Dragoon Ride exercise in Liepupe March 22, 2015. Operation Atlantic Resolve is aimed at demonstrating commitment to NATO allies in light of Russia's aggression in Ukraine, according to the US Army. - Sputnik International
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"If it is decided to deploy a permanent NATO military group to the Black Sea it will definitely destabilize the situation. This is not NATO’s maritime space. There is freedom of navigation in the Black Sea," Kelin said.

The diplomat added that NATO has never deployed a permanent force in the region, except for occasional entries of NATO’s warships in the Black Sea.

On Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is bolstering its presence in the Black Sea. He added that NATO military chiefs discussed creating a Romanian brigade as part of the multinational South-Eastern Brigade.

"We’re living at a time when many previous international agreements are being revised. So, it would be no surprise if someday the United States refuses to observe the Montreux Convention," Ivan Konovalov, head of the Center of Strategic Environment, told Svobodnaya Pressa.

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The problem is that Washington is discontent with the principles of decision making within NATO. Currently, the mechanism is that a decision is made by a unanimous decision by all members. The US wants to facilitate the procedure to push their decisions, bypassing the opposition of other members, the analyst explained.

At the same time, the NATO bureaucracy has tools to bypass restrictions postulated in previous agreements. For example, according to the agreements between Moscow and the alliance, NATO cannot deploy permanent forces to Eastern Europe. However, NATO worked out the so-called rotation scheme – personnel changes but military equipment and infrastructure stay the same.

Currently, NATO seems to be working on a similar scheme for the Black Sea, Konovalov suggested.

The US wants to use NATO to restrain Russia in the Baltic region and in the Black Sea, in a bid to decrease Russia’s naval capabilities. Moscow has built a powerful military force in the Arctic, so Washington will try to impose on Russia its own rules of the game in the Arctic, but it is unlikely to succeed, he said.

As for the Black Sea, NATO’s presence could be a headache for Russia, he assumed. For instance, the US may implement Romania’s imitative  of a united NATO flotilla, involving NATO regional members.

Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, noted that NATO’s increased presence in the Black Sea is part of an overall NATO trend to bolster military presence along Russian borders, including in the Barents and Okhotsk Sea.

In addition, Turkey is building up its naval forces in the Black Sea, he added.

"Russia would adequately strengthen its naval capability in response to NATO maneuvers. Moscow should send a signal to Washington and London that it is ready for an adequate response to any provocative actions," he said.

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