In the article "Why is it important to safeguard free access to the seas? Discover the role of a NATO maritime expert," Paul Beckley said that "freedom of access to the seas is critical for our national economies, infrastructure, freedom and ways of life."
Mines and submarines, meanwhile, are "efficient ways of denying that freedom of access to the seas," according to Beckley, a US Naval Academy graduate currently working at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
The expert went on to point out that "recent events in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Asimov have demonstrated the need for naval power and for NATO forces’ to be able to find and destroy mines."
Later on, NATO corrected the mistake, finally letting readers know that the piece actually meant the Sea of Azov.
The Kerch Strait, connecting the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, was rocked by a naval incident last November. Back then, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats, along with the Yany Kapu tugboat, illegally crossed the Russian maritime border in the Black Sea. Russia seized the Ukrainian vessels and detained the sailors after they failed to respond to a demand to stop. After the incident, a criminal case on illegal border crossing was opened in Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a provocation, noting that apart from 22 sailors, there were also two Ukrainian Security Service officers aboard who actually led the special operation.
Earlier in September, all 24 crew members were allowed to leave Russia under a deal on the simultaneous release of detainees with Ukraine.