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Russian-Ukrainian conflict, what’s happening in the Black Sea
Snake Island – a point of strategic importance for the western Black Sea area. Ukraine’s ‘ongoing’ military operation on the Serpent Island.
Air strikes hit targets on the Black Sea cliff
The Ukrainian military announced Tuesday, 21 JUN, that it has launched airstrikes on the Serpent Island, CNN reports. According to the Ukrainian military’s Southern Operational Command, “targeted strikes using various forces” were carried out on the Black Sea island occupied by Russia since the early days of its invasion of Ukraine. Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said earlier on Tuesday that “at 5am on Monday 20 June, the Kiev regime made a new mad attempt to seize the Snake Island”.
According to it, Ukrainian forces “intended to carry out massive aerial and artillery bombardment (…) before landing and seizing” the island, using drones, rocket launchers and howitzers. “On Monday, June 20, at 5 a.m., the regime in Kiev made another foolish attempt to seize Snake Island,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. According to him, Ukrainian forces “intended to launch massive air and artillery bombardments (…) before landing and conquering” the island.
The Russian Defence Ministry said
More than 15 Ukrainian drones, including attack drones, two TB2 Bayraktars, participated in the attack on the island, with air cover provided by the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s S-300 facilities deployed in the Tuzla and Oceakov areas. In addition, MLRS “Hurricane”, “Tochka-U” installations, as well as M-777 155 mm howitzers, located in positions west of Odessa and on Kubansky Island, were involved in the attacks on Zmeiny. In the skies above the island, an American RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV was recorded.
Despite the forces involved, the enemy attack was thwarted, Russian air defence systems intercepted four Tochka-U missiles, 21 MLRS Hurricane missiles and shot down 14 drones. At the same time, 2 M-777 howitzer platoons on Kubansky Island and Bayraktar TB2 hangars located at Shkolny airfield near Odessa were destroyed by Onyx missiles. Russian aircraft destroyed two S-300 air defence systems near Oceakov and Tuzla.
Why the Russians withdrew from Snake Island anyway / Pentagon explanation
The Russian military announced on Thursday 30 JUN that it has withdrawn from Snake Island, a strategic position in the Black Sea seized by Moscow and which has been under Ukrainian bombardment in recent weeks, according to AFP. “On 30 June, as a sign of goodwill, the Russian armed forces fulfilled their set objectives on the Serpents’ Island and withdrew their garrison there,” the Russian Defence Ministry announced, saying the move should facilitate grain exports from Ukraine. “Russia does not oppose UN efforts to create a humanitarian corridor to export grain production from Ukraine,” a spokesman at the Russian ministry said. “This decision will no longer allow Kiev to speculate about an impending food crisis, saying it is impossible to export grain because of Russia’s total control over the northwestern Black Sea,” he added. The Pentagon says there is no reason to believe that Russia’s withdrawal from the Snake Island is “a gesture of goodwill,” as Moscow has announced.
“The Ukrainians have successfully exerted considerable pressure on the Russians, including using Harpoon missiles they recently acquired to attack a supply ship. When you realize how deserted the Snake Island is, you understand the importance of resupply. So the Ukrainians have made it hard for the Russians to sustain operations there and made them very vulnerable to Ukrainian attacks. So that’s why Russia left the Snake Island,” said a Pentagon official.
In this context, the question arises as to the real reason why the Russian side decided to leave the Snake Island and whether this decision is a temporary or permanent one.
Is Moscow really worried about the fate of the wheat in the Odessa port warehouses? Are Russian officials scared by the measures announced in the West or by the constant attacks on the island from the Ukrainian side? Or is it a strategic withdrawal measure, along the lines of giving up attacking Kiev and regrouping troops in Donbas? As for the Russian side, it should be noted that it has already lost a large number of warships and auxiliary vessels in the area of Snake Island, including the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, the missile cruiser Moscow, as well as air defence assets located on the island.
Under these circumstances, Russian military commanders have now most likely decided to deliberately surrender the western part of the Black Sea and temporarily withdraw to the area off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula, in particular to the area of Sevastopol and even the Novorossiysk Naval Base in Krasnodar Territory. Subsequently, after the completion of operations in Donbas, where Russia and the separatist republics’ troops are very close to gaining full control, attention will shift to the Zaporozhye, Nikolaev and Odessa regions. In this way, Russian troops will advance on land, where resistance from the Ukrainian military will be much easier to overcome, thanks to air support and missile strikes from land, sea and air.
Once they control the Odessa Region, the Russians will be able to return to the Snake Island, which could be seen as a thorn in the side of Romania, meanwhile transformed into a NATO outpost in the Black Sea Region. Russian Black Sea Fleet ships will also return to the vicinity of the island, where they will control the sea routes from Odessa to the Bosphorus. So even if the departure of the Russians from the Snake Island area is now a cause for rejoicing for Ukraine’s representatives, it should be treated with caution, as it is in fact a strategy to regroup Russia in the Black Sea area. Behind the scenes of the daring operation by Ukrainian special troops who raised the country’s flag on Snake Island. The Ukrainian flag has been raised again on Snake Island, from which the Russians have retreated following sustained attacks by Ukrainian troops. The raising of the flag is symbolic, and the images have gone around the world. But only now are details emerging about the daring mission that took the flag to the island, Naval News reports.
On the night of 7 July 2022, special forces soldiers approached Snake Island in underwater vehicles. Divers searched the coastal area, looking for mines. After establishing a safe passage, they signaled the boats to the main group, according to a Ukrainian Special Forces post on Instagram.
According to Ukrainian sources, Russian warships began approaching the island while Ukrainian troops were still there. Once they had accomplished their mission, the Ukrainian forces withdrew. The Russians launched a missile attack on the island, which would hit the pier. Russia claims to have killed Ukrainian servicemen in the attack, but the Ukrainian side says its troops returned to base unharmed.
Russia’s departure from the island favors Ukraine’s moves to defend Odessa and perhaps even open sea lanes in the future, but surely transport on the Danube is safer now.
Although the Russians took control of Snake Island on the very first day of the launch of the special military operation against Ukraine, it has since been shown that maintaining a military presence there at this time is very risky and involves permanent losses of military personnel and military equipment.
Thus, as I have already stated in a previous material, during the ongoing conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces, it is not recommended that the warring parties deploy troops on Snake Island, as they are very exposed to blows from the adversary. On the one hand, the island is in the path of Ukrainian artillery and missiles, and on the other the Russian Black Sea Fleet has the means to destroy the adversary in this area.
Freedom of navigation for Ukraine’s Black Sea ports
British support in demining Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. Statements by Prime Minister Boris Johnson
British officials say they would be willing to help clear the Ukrainian Black Sea coast of mines to free up grain supplies.
“I don’t want to go into technical or military detail, but you can take from what we’ve already done in providing equipment to the Ukrainians to help protect themselves that we certainly talk to them about what we can do on a technical level to help demining Odessa,” Boris Johnson said during one of his official visits to Rwanda, CNN reports.
He also said it was “inconceivable” what Russia was doing about the grain blockade. “This supply could help people around the world, it could help some of the poorest countries in the world. What I’m trying to argue is I’m trying to say it’s not, it’s not necessarily going to be decisive, but it can make a big difference,” Johnson added.
Russia hit a tanker in the Black Sea under the Moldovan flag.
This is the second time since the invasion began that the ship has been hit. A Russian missile struck on Thursday a tanker adrift in the Black Sea for more than four months with an unknown quantity of diesel fuel on board, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported on Thursday, citing the Ukrainian military, which claims the tanker is an ‘ecological bomb’, according to Agerpres, citing Reuters.
The Millennial Spirit tanker, sailing under the Moldovan flag, is being hit for the second time by Russian missiles since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. It was first hit on 25 FEB, with the Moldovan authorities reporting at the time that the crew on board the ship were Russian nationals and that two people were seriously injured.
The Southern Military Command of the Ukrainian Defence Forces indicated on Thursday 07 JUL that at the time the vessel was hit in February, it had over 500 tonnes of diesel on board and had been floating without crew since then. According to him, a Russian X-31 air-to-ground missile hit the tanker this time. The Ukrainian military has described the ship as a ‘delayed-action ecological bomb’, saying it was caused by the blockade of Ukrainian ports by Russian invaders. Reuters news agency notes that it cannot independently confirm details of the attack at this time. Turkey confirms it has arrested Russian-flagged ship and will investigate whether grain being transported belongs to Ukraine.
Turkey has stopped a Russian-flagged ship off its Black Sea coast and is investigating Ukrainian allegations that it was carrying stolen grain, a senior Turkish official said on Monday, according to Agerpres, citing Reuters.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday 03 Jul that the ship Zhibek Zholy was detained by Turkish customs authorities. Ukraine had previously asked Ankara to detain the ship, according to official documents seen by Reuters.
“Upon request, the vessel named Zhibek Zholy was detained off the port of Karasu,” the Turkish official said. “The allegations are being thoroughly investigated. It doesn’t say on the grain who they belong to,” he added. He said Turkey is in contact with Russia, the UN and third parties to elucidate the matter.
A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official, citing information from the country’s maritime administration, told Reuters on Friday that Zhibek Zholy had loaded some 4,500 tonnes of grain from Berdiansk, a Russian-occupied port in southern Ukraine. According to the MarineTraffic website, Zhibek Zholy came from the Russian port of Novorossiisk, dpa reports.
The vessel belongs to Kazakhstan’s KTZ Express Shipping and is operated by Green-Line LLC of St Petersburg, which has a contract with Estonia’s Mangelbert OU to transport grain from Ukraine to Turkey. The operator assured the shipowner that grain from occupied Berdyansk was allegedly exported through the “security corridor” under the agreement with Ukraine.
Ukraine summons Turkish ambassador after Russian ship leaves Turkish port
Authorities in Ukraine are summoning Turkey’s ambassador after a Russian ship loaded with grain left a Turkish port, according to Reuters.
“We regret that the Russian ship Zhibek Zholy, which was full of stolen Ukrainian grain, was allowed to leave Karasu port despite criminal evidence presented to the Turkish authorities,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Twitter.
The Ukrainians consider this an “unacceptable situation” and have summoned the Turkish ambassador to explain.
Ukraine resumes grain exports through Odessa port. First ship leaves next week for Turkey.
Mircea Olteanu – 10 July 2022/ Agrointelligence – AGROINTEL.RO
The first Ukrainian grain test ship will leave Odessa port next week, on July 14, and will head for Turkey, MP Anatoly Urbansky announced on Rada TV. “On July 14, a test ship will be able to leave Odessa port. If all goes well, more and more ships will leave every day,” the Ukrainian politician said.
“The port in Nikolaev is not working either. We have to compensate this turnover with the help of river routes. And here we have another big problem. This is the Sulina Canal, which connects the Danube River to the Black Sea and runs through Romania. There is a very long queue, now more than 100 grain transporters are waiting to be put through the Sulina Canal,” said Urbansky, who said Ukrainian authorities are in daily contact with their colleagues in Romania to facilitate transport.
Compromise: EU lifts sanctions affecting Russian food and grain exports
The European Commission on Friday plans to introduce a series of changes to sanctions against Moscow so that they do not affect Russian food and grain exports, Reuters reports.
A meeting between Turkish, Ukrainian and Russian officials and UN representatives on Wednesday agreed to set up a coordination centre under UN auspices in Istanbul to facilitate Ukrainian as well as Russian grain exports. Russia has been systematically stealing industrial quantities of grain and more from occupied Ukraine. Turkey has allowed Russian-operated ships loaded with grain and other goods stolen from Ukraine to transit the Bosphorus. On Wednesday 13 July, it was agreed that the exit and entry of grain ships from ports would be subject to a mixed control, so as not to carry weapons.
Details are yet to be worked out, but Moscow has insisted it be allowed to transit with Russian exports.
In the same package, the European Commission also plans to introduce new anti-Russian restrictions on gold, chemicals and mechanical engineering, according to sources.
Russia and Turkey have reportedly agreed to circumvent a UN General Assembly resolution on grain shipments from Ukraine and will thus prevent naval forces of Black Sea states from entering the Black Sea.
A direct Turkish involvement in securing convoys can be accepted by Russia and Ukraine.
(Source:https://www.defenseromania.ro/turcia-confirma-ca-a-arestat-nava-sub-pavilion-rusesc-si-va-investiga-daca-cerealele-transportate-apartin-ucrainei_617098.html). (Source: https://www.blackseanews.net/read/191346)
The use of Harpoon missiles by the Ukrainian Navy scared the Russians so much that they decided to stay away from Ukrainian coastal areas
After Ukraine announced on Friday that it had hit a Russian tugboat sailing in the Black Sea with two Harpoon missiles, the Russian fleet realized that it had become far too dangerous for its ships to sail closer to Ukrainian coastal areas and ordered their repositioning closer to the Crimean Peninsula.
The Ukrainian navy said the Russian tugboat, identified as Vasily Bek by the governor of Odessa, was carrying soldiers, arms and ammunition to the Snake Island occupied by Russian troops in the early days of the aggression against Ukraine.
Ukraine will have four Harpoon missile coastal defence batteries, two from Denmark and two from the United States.
Equipping Ukraine with coastal missiles requires the Russian Federation to take a different approach to warfare at sea and so we see a redeployment of ships to the Crimean peninsula or south to Romania’s EEZ.
The repositioning of ships further ensures the blockade of the Ukrainian coast and prevents the restoration of maritime trade, including the export of Ukrainian grain.
Ukrainians attacked with missiles a major drilling rig in the Black Sea that the Russians had stolen in 2014
Ukrainian troops have launched a missile attack on the “Boyko” offshore drilling platform used by the Russians to extract gas from the Black Sea.
The information was published by MP Oleksiy Goncearenko. He noted that this morning’s sounds of explosions did not come from Snake Island, as previously reported, but from where the Russians have placed oil rigs stolen from Ukraine in the Black Sea. “The rocket attack on the Boyko towers slightly interfered with the Russians’ Ukrainian Black Sea gas production,” Goncearenko wrote.
The attack on the “Boyko towers” was also confirmed by Russian “authorities” in Crimea.
Recall that in 2014 Russia seized drilling platforms located 100 km from Odessa and 150 km from Crimea.
After the attack of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the Chernomorneftegaz drilling platforms, the Russians began an emergency evacuation of personnel from all platforms in the Black Sea.
The attack on the platforms besides the economic aspect, affecting gas exploitation, also has an important military role as the Russian Federation has deployed military personnel on these platforms and is using the platforms for intelligence gathering using electronic means in support of consolidating total control over the north-western part of the Black Sea.
How Russia’s mighty Black Sea fleet came to retreat because of Ukrainian attacks
Analysis – Sebastian Jucan
Russia’s navy is on paper the second most powerful in the world, largely due to its fleet of nuclear submarines, but it appears to have retreated in the war with Ukraine, dramatically scaling back its operations in the Black Sea, write Naval News analysts.
Much of the northern Black Sea is now a de facto no-go zone for Russian ships, which likely contributed to Moscow’s decision to withdraw its troops from the Snake Island in late June.
A major factor that prompted the military command in Moscow to order the withdrawal was the arrival of the first Harpoon anti-ship missiles in Ukraine, promised by Denmark to help Kiev unlock the Odessa port through which most of the country’s grain exports transited before the war broke out.
But the arrival of these state-of-the-art missiles does not paint the full picture of Ukrainian
Russians close to landing in Odessa
In the early days of the war launched by President Vladimir Putin on 24 February, the Russian navy dominated the northern Black Sea between Crimea and Ukraine.
The Russian Black Sea fleet quickly captured Snake Island and set up a blockade on merchant ships, and there were also strong indications that the Russians were preparing a landing near Odessa.
Although a full-scale disengagement did not eventually take place, Russian landing ships sailed in repeated “demonstrations” around Odessa. The threat was very real. Moscow’s ships, even those with limited defenses, could sail unmolested and were seen not once from Odessa’s beaches. The key to Russian domination was its flagship, the Slava-class cruiser Moskva. Operating about 30 nautical miles off the coast, the ship’s S-300F missile system provided an umbrella of air defense for other Russian ships and defenders on Snake Island.
Moskva sinking, the first blow to the Black Sea Fleet
The whole situation changed dramatically less than two months after the war began on 13 April. Two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship missiles hit Moskva after being launched from land. Through a combination of factors, probably including some bad luck and some training shortcomings, the ship sank the next day. But the impact was greater than the loss of a single ship. In a single instant, the sinking of the Moskva destroyed the Russian Navy’s sense of invulnerability.
The Black Sea Fleet immediately became more reluctant to take risks. Raids near the coast continued, possibly to send a message that Russia was not afraid, but the pattern changed.
The usual patrol areas have shrunk, generally moving towards the Crimean coast and further north into the Black Sea, while Ukraine has found that the notorious Bayraktar TB2 drones could be used against troops on the Snake Island.
Snake Island, a new defeat for Russian armed forces
The Russians, for their part, found that the island’s anti-aircraft defences, made up of powerful Tor and Pantsir systems, could not keep the Turkish-made drones at bay.
The Ukrainians began to launch repeated and increasingly audacious attacks against positions on Snake Island, even managing to hit a Russian helicopter just as it was trying to unload troops.
But the most significant strike the Ukrainians managed was against a desant ship, sinking it and blocking access to the island until it could be rescued.
The Ukrainians also discovered that Bayraktar TB2 drones can also be used for reconnaissance missions in support of more powerful weapons. Since May, the first reports began to emerge that the Harpoon anti-ship missiles promised by Denmark had arrived in Ukraine.
Harpoon anti-ship missiles, the newest weapon in Ukraine’s arsenal
These were felt keenly by the Black Sea Fleet on 17 June when a valuable support vessel, the tug Vasiliy Bekh, sank after being hit by two Harpoon missiles, despite having a Tor anti-aircraft system mounted on its deck. On 20 June, the Ukrainians again used Harpoon missiles to hit Russian drilling platforms in the Black Sea that they claimed were militarised and used for surveillance by Russian armed forces.
Black Sea Fleet ships became even more wary and the supply line to Snake Island was further strained. Ukrainian drone strikes and missile attacks were beginning to wear down the defences while Harpoon missiles held off vital supplies. Russia finally abandoned Snake Island on June 30, despite stories of heroics circulating on Russian social media platforms at the time.
It was a victory for the artillery systems used to bombard the exposed island. But it was also a victory for the Harpoon missiles that made supplying Russian troops so risky.
Currently Russian Federation ships are deployed at a safe distance from the Ukrainian coast and the likelihood of executing an amphibious operation on Odessa is very low, but not excluded, dismantling ships are deployed in Russian ports. Cruise missile launches are still being carried out on targets on Ukrainian territory from ships and submarines. On the other hand, Russia is still imposing an effective blockade on Ukrainian ports using ships operating much further south, close to Romania.
Even though the Russian fleet in the Black Sea is a powerful one, the threat posed by Harpoon missiles and other systems has prompted a reorganisation of the force and the enforcement of sea control at a distance from the coastline.
Fearing Ukrainian attacks, Russians use fake targets and smokescreens to defend Crimean Bridge
The bridge over the Kerch Strait, which was built by the Russians to link Crimea to mainland Russia, is a strategic objective and a vital piece of infrastructure for the war with Ukraine. As a result, it is considered a strategic target by the Ukrainians, who have repeatedly announced that they will destroy it. In response, Russia has deployed several countermeasure systems to protect it.
According to analyst H I Sutton, around 29 June, two target barges, which are normally deployed at the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Novorossiysk Naval Base (NRF), were moved to the Crimean Bridge area.
They were anchored on the eastern side of the main bridge towards the Sea of Azov. The two barges are covered with radar reflectors. Under the circumstances, they are used as targets for the FRMN. Now, they appear to be used as false radar targets to confuse Ukrainian missiles.
A few days later, on 01 July, a series of videos appeared on social media, showing an aerosol dispersal. This covered portions of the bridge with thick white smoke. This blinded drivers and caused accidents in the bridge area.
The aerosol dispersal was stopped as the satellites passed over, indicating that it was probably just a test by the Russian side.
The Crimean bridge is an important target for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Russia should normally have no problem protecting the Crimean Bridge across the Kerch Strait.
The bridge is far from Ukrainian-controlled territory and the Ukrainians do not have long-range missiles, and under these circumstances the bridge can only be hit by air, but they must avoid Russian anti-aircraft missile systems.
However, the conflict with Ukraine has shown that in many cases, including that of the Moscow cruiser, Russian air and missile defences have not worked as they should.
Russian-Ukrainian conflict, what’s happening outside the Black Sea
More than 300 military sailors leave for Multinational Exercise “Breeze 22” in Bulgaria
The Romanian Naval Forces are participating with three military vessels in the multinational exercise “Breeze 22”, organised and led by the Bulgarian Naval Forces, which will take place in the territorial waters of Bulgaria, in the international waters of the Black Sea and in the port of Burgas from 14-25 July.
The frigate “King Ferdinand” and the sea dredger “Lieutenant Lupu Dinescu” will depart on Wednesday, July 13, from the military port of Constanta, while the missile carrier “Zborul” will depart on Thursday, July 14, from the military port of Mangalia to the port of Burgas, where the first stage of the exercise will take place and the planning meeting for the determination of the mode of action at sea will be held. This year’s “Breeze 22” exercise involves naval and airborne capabilities and staff officers from Albania, Belgium, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Turkey and the United States. The main objective of the multinational exercise “Breeze 22” is to enhance tactical interoperability between naval personnel and participating units by practicing operational procedures for conventional and unconventional warfare and countering asymmetric threats. The fictitious scenario of Exercise Breeze 2022 is adapted to new geostrategic challenges and foresees the response of a multinational force to a geopolitical crisis in the region. It encompasses actions in all combat environments, including against hybrid threats, to strengthen NATO’s eastern border defence capability.
Through the missions they carry out, the Romanian Naval Forces actively contribute to the implementation of Romania’s security policy and the achievement of the objectives of the National Security Strategy.
Ships belonging to NATO member or partner countries not bordering the Black Sea usually participate in such exercises organised by Bulgaria or Romania. But the war in Ukraine and Turkey’s application of the Montreux Convention on the Regime of the Straits of the Black Sea have affected the participation of other forces in this exercise.
Russia considers tearing up maritime delimitation agreement with Norway
Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin on Tuesday urged Moscow to consider tearing up a maritime delimitation agreement with Norway in response to the blocking of cargo transit to the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, reports Agerpres, citing AFP.
Russia and Norway, two major players in the oil-rich Arctic region, reached an agreement in 2010 on delimiting their maritime borders in the Barents Sea, ending a 40-year dispute.
The agreement, ratified in 2011, was hailed as a new beginning in relations between the two countries, but their relations have deteriorated considerably since then, particularly following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
In this context, Russia has accused Oslo of preventing the transit through its territory of a cargo destined to supply Russian miners based in the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard at the end of June, threatening to retaliate.
Norway defended itself, saying it had not violated any agreement and that Moscow could supply the Russian community living on Svalbard through other routes.
Located some 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole, Svalbard is governed by an atypical treaty, concluded in 1920 in Paris, which recognises Norway’s sovereignty but also guarantees residents of the 46 signatory states, including Russia, the freedom to exploit natural resources ‘on an equal footing’.
Economy, port operations, shipping
Romania and Bulgaria will cooperate to ensure navigation on the Danube. Five more bridges to be built across the river
Bulgaria and Romania will work together to ensure conditions for navigation on the Danube, is the conclusion that emerged Tuesday at the end of a meeting hosted by Bulgarian Deputy Transport Minister Vladimir Vurbanov at the initiative of the European Commission and the Danube Commission.
The two sides agreed to hold a meeting of the Bulgarian-Romanian Joint Commission by the end of this week, where new targets for the unused potential of the Danube and unification of efforts will be set, the Bulgarian Transport Ministry said in a press release, quoted by Agerpres.
The parties also agreed to start the work of the Bulgarian-Romanian working group to prepare the construction of five new bridges across the Danube. In this context, Vladimir Vurbanov expressed Bulgaria’s readiness to act and launch feasibility studies. The Romanian side is engaged in an active dialogue and actions on this issue.
For their part, the European Commission representatives present at the meeting expressed their support and stressed the importance of building the new bridges, given the need for continuous transport connectivity on the north-south direction. The meeting on Tuesday 12 July was also attended by Magda Kopczynska, Director of the Waterborne Transport Directorate of the European Commission, Alain Baron, European Commission representative for Mobility and Transport, Manfred Seitz, Director General of the Danube Commission, and Bogdan Mîndrescu, Secretary of State in the Romanian Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.
The European Commission’s support can help resolve one of the most tense situations in Danube navigation, caused by the refusal of the Bulgarian authorities to cooperate in dredging the waterway on the Romanian-Bulgarian joint sector. Because of these misunderstandings, during dry periods in recent years, when the Danube level was low, navigation was frequently blocked because the depth in the Romanian-Bulgarian sector was not assured.
Romanian seaports aim for record traffic of over 72 million tonnes!
Romanian seaports are facing a terrible test: they have to prove to the whole world, not only to their own nation and the European community, that they play a vital role in ensuring the flow of goods essential for the planet’s economic and food security.
They have prepared enormously for this moment – though they never suspected they would be subjected to such a test. They have invested in modern grain silos, container, oil and steel terminals, increased depths, storm dams and modern port equipment to ensure high ship loading and unloading rates.
Here is just one example: while in 1990 the grain storage capacity in the port of Constanta was only 101 thousand tonnes, it has now reached over 3.966 million tonnes. Thus, the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops and the blockade of its seaports found Romanian ports ready to take over the huge quantities of grain from the suffering country.
Against the backdrop of the complex economic crisis that has engulfed humanity and the war in the country’s neighbourhood, Romanian seaports ended the first five months of 2022 with overall cargo traffic up 10.93% compared to that recorded in the period January – May 2021. Together, the ports of Constanta (plus the Midia area) and Mangalia handled 30.143 million tonnes.
Huge quantities of export grain and oilseeds from the record 2021 harvests in silos in Romania, Serbia and Hungary contributed to this performance. And from around the end of March 2022, grain flows from Ukraine have been added. So in the first five months of the year, maritime traffic amounted to 23.779 million tonnes, up 17.50% compared to the same period in 2021. River traffic, on the other hand, fell to 6.364 million tonnes, down 8.23%.
Constanta – the largest Romanian port – handled 30.034 million tonnes of cargo, up 11.02% compared to January – May 2021. The quantities of: cereals and oily seeds, hydrocarbons and metal products, equipment, iron ore and containerised goods positively influenced the increase. During the reporting period, the traffic of containerized cargoes in the port of Constanta totaled 2,950,401 tons, i.e. 299,069 TEU (standard containers), which is 14.21% higher in tons and 14.88% higher in TEU compared to January – May 2021.
The small port of Mangalia handled 109 thousand tonnes of cargo, 9.92% less than in January – May 2021.
With Odessa port blocked and those in the Sea of Azov under Russian Federation occupation, Ukraine needs to find new ways to export products and especially grain.
Portul Constanța realizează prin Canalul Dunare – Marea Neagră o conexiune foarte bună cu Dunărea asigurând în acest fel costuri reduse și volume importante de mărfuri care pot fi transportate, asigurând o alternativă eficientă la transportul rutier și feroviar congestionat din Europa. In analiza situației din porturile Românești trebuie să avem în vedere faptul că până la declanșarea războiului de către Rusia capacitățile de operare din aceste porturi erau suficiente, iar investițiile în această direcție se fac cu reținere în condițiile în care acestea pot deveni excedentare după război. (Sursa:https://cugetliber.ro/stiri-economie-porturile-maritime-romanesti-tintesc-spre-un-trafic-record-de-peste-72-milioane-de-tone-460281)
Tehnică și tehnologii maritime
- Forțele Navale ale Rusiei au primit în dotare Belgorod, primul submarin purtător de torpile nucleare Poseidon
Serviciul de presă al Șantierului Naval Sevmash din Severodvinsk a informat că, pe 08.07.2022, a fost predat Forțelor Navale ale Rusiei primul submarin cu destinație specială Belgorod. Cu această ocazie, comandantul-șef al Forțelor Navale ale Rusiei, amiralul Nikolai Evmenov, a subliniat faptul că la crearea submarinului au fost utilizate realizările cele mai avansate ale științei și cele mai recente tehnologii de construcții navale. “Submarinul Belgorod deschide noi oportunități pentru Rusia în realizarea de diverse studii și permite efectuarea de expediții științifice și operațiuni de salvare în cele mai îndepărtate zone ale Oceanului Planetar”, a menționat Evmenov.
Also, according to his statement, alongside the submarine Habarovsk, Project 09851, the submarine Belgorod, Project 09852, will be the carrier of the Poseidon-type unmanned submersible attack systems. It is, in fact, a nuclear torpedo, which, according to statements by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shigu in February 2019, has already passed its tests in maritime polygons.
The Poseidon submarine drones, dubbed the “weapons of the Apocalypse” by the Western press, are capable of travelling at speeds of almost 110 knots, or more than 200 km per hour. In addition, the drone is capable of manoeuvring, changing direction and depth.
The Belgorod is the largest submarine in the Russian Navy, weighing almost 24,000 tonnes and measuring 184m long and 18.2m wide. Its other technical characteristics are secret.
The Poseidon drone’s nuclear payload can reach 100 megatons, 130 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped by the Americans on Hiroshima, and could produce a tsunami up to 500 m high, as well as large-scale “devastating” radioactive contamination, similar to a cobalt bomb.
By equipping the Belgorod submarine, Russia’s naval forces are getting a terrible new weapon designed to strike nuclear warheads at the shores of a potential adversary, to destroy important coastal elements of its economic infrastructure and to cause guaranteed damage by creating vast areas of radioactive contamination, tsunami and other devastating consequences of a nuclear explosion. The Poseidon drone also cannot be intercepted by existing anti-missile systems
Coastal batteries for Romania’s defence. Kongsberg: NSM systems missiles defeat any modern warship defensive system
Kyrre Lohne, Vice President Strategic Business Development at Norway’s Kongsberg, spoke exclusively to DefenseRomania about the NSM anti-ship missile program, also known as coastal batteries.
NSM is part of the “System of Mobile Anti-Ship Missile Launch Facilities” (SIML) armament programme. According to the MApN, the contract will run from 2021-2024 and the “Mobile Anti-Ship Missile Launch Facility System” will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2024.
The SIML to be procured includes four mobile launch facilities, command-control-communications platforms, transport and load-unload platforms, sensors, initial logistical support, maintenance and test equipment, cryptographic and special-regime equipment, specialist support, training of personnel at all necessary levels, including combat use, training equipment, and SIML-specific databases. The NSM (Naval Strike Missile) anti-ship missiles will be built by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a division of Raytheon Technologies, in partnership with the Norwegian company Kongsberg. Norway, Poland and the US have NSMs in their arsenal. In addition to Romania, Germany and Australia have also purchased the system.
The Kongsberg representative pointed out that the NSM system that Romania has also contracted uses an infrared system for target identification, which gives NSM an advantage over other anti-ship defence systems in the same class. At the same time, the missile’s design makes it very difficult for radar systems to identify it.
“The NSM has been designed to be able to penetrate the defences of modern warships. These ships have different defence systems, long-range, medium-range, guns, etc. The concept of the NSM is that the missile is capable of penetrating these systems. The Americans have been looking hard over the years at what kind of technology is needed to penetrate the systems of a modern warship. And finally they chose NSM,” added Kyrre Lohne.
“It would be interesting to see the Romanian defence industry focus on developing original Romanian technology to enter the international market,” says the Norwegian representative. He gave the example of Kongsberg, which a few years ago had exports of 10% on the international market, and after the implementation of the new strategy the figure increased to 90%.
“The international markets are much bigger than the domestic ones”, concluded Kyrre Lohne, adding that the Norwegian manufacturer Kongsberg is keen to work with the Romanian defence industry and promote it on the international markets.
At BSDA, Kongsberg also presented its famous NASAMS air defence systems and the Vanguard ship, a game changer in naval operations. The Kongsberg representative sees the Vanguard as revolutionary in the sense that military ships, for example frigates, are becoming more and more expensive. Thus Vanguard was born, a ship that is based on civilian standards but militarised.
The keel of the Bulgarian corvette “Hrabri” has been laid in Varna.
On 17 June 2022, the keel of the first of two new Multipurpose Modular Patrol Vessels (MPVP) for the Bulgarian naval forces was laid in a ceremony. The vessel is called Hrabri, which means “Brave” in Bulgarian.
The acquisition of modern vessels to NATO standards has long been under consideration. These new MMVP’s will replace two Pauk class corvettes (Project 1241P) and one Tarantul (Project 1241.1M).
While details on armament, sensors and other specifications have not yet been made public, the vessels, which are about 90 metres long with about 2,300 tonnes, are based on the OPV 90 design from the NVL/Naval Vessels Lürssen portfolio and feature an integrated battle management system. The Swedish company SAAB announced in December 2020 that it will provide the combat management system for these vessels.
The ships will be armed with a 76 mm main gun, in addition four anti-ship missiles, probably of European manufacture, eight VL-MICA anti-aircraft missiles in vertical launch cells, Rheinmetall Millennium close-in defences and light torpedoes. The MMVP’s will be the first ships in the Bulgarian Navy with a flight deck and hangar and will be able to accommodate the AS-565MB Panther naval helicopter in Bulgarian service.
The total volume of the MMPV project is around €420 million. The delivery of the first ship is scheduled for the third quarter of 2025, and the second ship a year later. Construction of the second vessel will start in early 2023.
The delays in equipping Romania’s naval forces are already reprehensible. It takes several years to build a new warship, but it takes generations to establish a coherent organization in naval combat. And the situation in Ukraine demonstrates this.
The West has sent artillery systems and other equipment that after cursory training have been introduced into combat. But even if one of Ukraine’s Allies donated one or more warships to help strengthen Ukraine’s naval forces, it would take several months to properly train sailors to effectively use all the systems on board.
Investment in equipping Romania’s naval forces cannot wait any longer. If Ukraine has a more capable naval force, with larger ships with adequate lobbing capabilities, they could more easily be equipped with alternative weapons systems to counter the Russian blockade against Ukrainian ports.
Even if Romania is a member of NATO, membership can provide a country with a fair amount of protection and security, but it is never a substitute for investing in its own armed forces.
A new rapid intervention craft on the Danube for military sailors
The fast intervention barge “Eugeniu Botez”, with the number 522, entered on Friday, July 15, in the service of the Romanian Naval Forces, in the composition of the 88th Fluvial Vessel Division “Admiral Gheorghe Sandu” of the Fluvial Flotilla “Mihail Kogălniceanu”.
On this occasion, a military and religious ceremony was held in the Military Port of Braila, during which the ship was christened and the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear-Admiral Mihai Panait, presented the commander of the 88 River Vessels Division “Admiral Gheorghe Sandu” with the first flag of the new military ship.
The “Eugeniu Botez” intervention barge will be deployed in the Tulcea Military Port and will be used for missions on the Danube, on the connecting channels, inland waters, lagoon and coastal areas. The vessel is 12 metres long, 3.8 metres wide and built on an aluminium alloy hull. It can carry a crew of eight and two tonnes of material. The vessel’s main missions are support in riverine actions, rapid intervention with marine infantry sub-units, EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) specialists or military divers, patrol actions in the area of military actions, evacuation of medical emergencies and support in search and rescue missions executed in the area of responsibility. The “Mihail Kogalniceanu” River Flotilla, with its headquarters in Braila, has the personnel and capabilities to carry out its established missions and the commitments undertaken by our country in the regional security system.
INFORMARE, War at Sea, Russia’s War in Ukraine, Series No. 6
Analysis – Estonia International Centre for Defence and Security/Bill Combes
The ramifications of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine extend beyond the suffering and disenfranchisement of Ukrainian citizens, the loss of Ukrainian territory and the destruction of its economic potential. The conflict, Russia’s naval blockade and sanctions imposed on Moscow have further aggravated global production, food and energy supply chains, increasing inflation and weakening the food and energy security of many other nations. As on land and in the air, nearly three months into the conflict, Russia has not achieved all of its maritime goals and has suffered some setbacks in the Black Sea. The dramatic sinking of the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship cruiser Moskva, the successful striking of other Russian naval assets and the banning of an amphibious operation in the Odessa region are among the successes of Ukraine’s maritime response.
In this context there are lessons identified in the naval domain for the Baltic states and other nations with small navies.
Russia in the Black Sea
Since its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia has treated the Black Sea and Sea of Azov as a “Russian lake”, where it behaves and acts as it wishes. Its actions have included maritime hybrid warfare and actions in the legal sphere – interpreting international laws and agreements as it wishes and exploiting these legal systems to suit its own ends. Examples include stealing and relocating Ukrainian oil platforms, building the bridge in the Kerch Strait to a height calculated to prevent access by Ukrainian ships, seizing Ukrainian merchant ships and harassing NATO ships legally transiting international waters.
Diplomatic and legal efforts to counter this behaviour have been ineffective.
Since 2014, Russia has doubled its offensive naval capability in the region. Before the conflict began, its Black Sea fleet consisted of six Kilo-class diesel submarines, six larger surface vessels (one cruiser – Moskva and five frigates), 36 patrol and coastal vessels, ten mine action vessels and ten amphibious landing craft and landing craft. The fleet is supported by missile systems, naval aviation and marine infantry from Russia’s Southern Military District. Russia’s additional naval activities in the Black Sea exercises that increased their capacity at the start of the conflict included six amphibious ships (with their sailors, servicemen and associated equipment) from the Baltic Sea and Northern Fleet. The type of ships available and their activities to date indicate Russia’s likely wartime objectives for its naval forces.
The first of these has been to establish maritime control (ensure unhindered naval operations) to prevent interference with its other maritime objectives, which include blockading Ukraine and neutralising the Ukrainian navy. Russia’s amphibious capabilities were intended to augment ground forces in attacking and holding eastern and southern Ukraine and to support a maritime logistical bridge to forces in the south (via Crimea) and east (via the Sea of Azov). Finally, naval forces, including submarines, were to be a source for launching missiles to strike targets throughout Ukraine. With the exception of an amphibious action to capture Odessa, these objectives appear to have been largely achieved. Russia’s relatively strong naval position, control of the Sea of Azov and the northern Black Sea off Odessa, amphibious capabilities, and logistical support in the Black Sea and especially the Sea of Azov no doubt contributed to the relative success of its ground campaign in Herson and portions of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye regions. The loss of command control and air defence capabilities associated with the Moskva cruiser and the striking of other ships that could execute missile attacks on land targets eroded Russia’s ability to maintain control of the sea and reduced naval strike capabilities and may even have limited amphibious options to attack Odessa. As part of Odessa’s defense, Ukraine appears to have successfully launched sea mines via tugboats to limit Russia’s naval and amphibious actions there. The blockade of Ukraine, which was not officially announced as required by international law and custom, was also successful. Russia attacked commercial shipping to reinforce the blockade. The Black Sea Fleet, however, contributed only a small part of the more than a thousand missile strikes across Ukraine.
Ukrainian resistance at sea
Particular credit for preventing an amphibious attack on Odessa goes to Ukraine’s defensive naval actions and defensive maritime activities. The illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 reduced the size of Ukraine’s navy, its access to the Black Sea and its ability to ensure the maritime security of its eastern flank on the Sea of Azov. Before the war, Ukraine was working on implementing its first post-2014 naval strategy plan, which, through a fleet of small patrol boats and anti-ship systems (artillery, missiles), would increase maritime situational awareness and prevent maritime threats from accessing its coastal waters.
Increasing the size and capabilities of its naval forces and coastal defences was a pre-war priority, but progress had been slow. Nevertheless, the country successfully modified the Russian mobile cruise missile systems in its inventory to produce the 300km-range Neptune anti-ship missile system to strengthen its coastal artillery. At the start of the conflict, Ukraine’s naval forces consisted of a frigate, 12 patrol and coastal craft (including a corvette), a mine countermeasures ship, an amphibious assault ship, an amphibious landing craft and eight logistics and support ships. The frigate was undergoing repairs in port, and Ukraine sank it on the first day of the conflict to prevent its capture by Russia.
Due to the difference in naval strength compared to Russia, Ukraine’s likely strategic naval objectives for the conflict were to prevent an amphibious attack on Odessa, to destroy as many Russian ships as possible to minimize their impact on the land campaign, and to break the blockade to sustain its economy and to allow for humanitarian and military maritime aid. In addition to sinking the cruiser Moskva with locally developed Neptune anti-ship missiles, Ukraine has had some success in hitting other Russian ships. Reports, some unconfirmed, indicate that Ukraine has successfully targeted up to 13 Russian ships, sinking or damaging frigates, amphibious ships and patrol vessels at sea and in port, using missiles or drones.
Naval assistance needed
The conflict has highlighted the importance of using readily available and innovative means to maintain maritime situational awareness to collect data necessary to execute strikes, as well as the role of intelligence from allies and partners in locating ships at sea.
Unmanned aerial, surface and underwater vehicles can help build a recognisable naval picture and can be used successfully for strike execution. Ukraine’s use of armed drones at sea suggests that unconventional guerrilla-style naval warfare, such as improvised explosive devices or other anti-ship munitions delivered by small craft, may also be a means to compensate for the lack of anti-ship missiles.
Helping Ukraine with these capabilities and with more anti-ship missiles, such as the Harpoon missiles donated by Denmark, would help Ukraine further erode the Black Sea Fleet blockade and Russia’s ability to assist land forces in gaining additional territory or consolidating the gains it has so far.
What Ukraine really needs to maintain or enhance the effects of its maritime campaign and break the blockade is direct naval assistance. This, however, could risk escalating the conflict to one with NATO, since the other Black Sea nations with adequate naval forces (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey) are members of the Alliance.
Maritime Security Studies
The war in Ukraine could be entering a dangerous new phase: Putin’s winter strategy vs. NATO’s summer strategy. New York Times analysis
Analysis by Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times, picked up by Rador:
I think the war in Ukraine is about to enter a new phase, based on the following fact: Many Russian soldiers and generals may be dead, but Ukraine’s wary NATO allies are tired. In Europe, this war has already caused a crisis in gas, petrol and food prices, and if it drags into winter, many families in the European Union may find themselves choosing between heating and feeding themselves. Consequently, I believe that the new phase of the war is what, in my opinion, would be Vladimir Putin’s ‘winter strategy’ versus NATO’s ‘summer strategy’. It is obvious that Putin is preparing to move forward in Ukraine, he is hoping that eventually energy inflation and food prices in Europe will crack the NATO alliance. He seems inclined to think so if temperatures in Europe are cooler than usual and oil and gas supplies are below normal. Then, if average prices are higher and power outages due to the energy crisis become more frequent, there is a good chance that European NATO members will start putting pressure on Ukraine’s president, Volodimir Zelenski, to persuade him to reach an agreement with Russia – whatever it is – to end the fighting.
So surely Putin needs to tell his exhausted troops and generals, “Keep supporting me until Christmas. Winter is our friend”. On the other hand, NATO, American and Ukrainian officials are surely saying to themselves: ‘Yes, winter is our enemy. But summer and autumn can be our friend – IF we can hurt Putin’s weary army somewhat, at least he will accept a truce”.
This is an equally absurd strategy. Putin may well gain ground in eastern Ukraine, but at a very high price. Many military analysts suggest that, in less than five months, Russia has recorded the deaths of at least 15 000 soldiers – a staggering figure – and probably double that number of wounded. Over 1000 Russian tanks have been turned into ‘scrap metal’. Putin is reluctant to mobilise more men because that would mean that the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, which he has been telling his compatriots about, is not only big, but it is also going much worse.
Clearly, NATO is hoping that the Ukrainian military will be able to use the HIMARS M142 (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) that the US has sent to Kiev so that they can inflict as many casualties and as much damage as possible on the Russian military over the summer and autumn. If that happens, then Putin’s advance would not only stall, but actually lose ground, and the Russian president might be inclined to reach a truce, a large prisoner exchange, humanitarian evacuations, and better terms for Ukrainian food exports – all leading to lower inflation and possibly less pressure on Ukraine’s European allies to abandon any deal with Putin.
We’re at a point where each side believes it can win, and where the conditions for diplomatic contacts to begin are not in place, and the war in Ukraine will not end soon.
Romania in NATO’s new strategic concept
Article: Ion Petrescu, military analyst/ 10 Jul
What is certain is that the NATO Summit in Madrid (28-30 June) took the pulse of Eastern Europe, where world peace and international security are in question, and adopted a new strategic concept to ensure that the North Atlantic Alliance remains fit for defence and resourced for the future.
Of course, for more than seventy years, NATO has ensured the freedom and security of its allies, only now the cry of despair of the Ukrainian people confirms that war crimes, territorial annexations and illegal invasions can take place beyond Euro-Atlantic territory, all by virtue of the right of imperial force.
But the authorities at Supreme Allied Commander Europe are determined to protect one billion citizens, to defend NATO territory with 3.2 million allied troops if necessary, and to maintain freedom and democracy at all costs. Unfortunately, the uncharted geopolitical reality indicates that peace will not be possible in Ukraine for a long time to come, with the Kremlin constantly raising the possibility of resorting to nuclear weapons, but without warning the Russian people that the second a missile is
NATO is a defensive alliance so there has never been any question of military intervention by its troops on its eastern border. The key to maintaining the transatlantic link is a shared attachment to universal and intangible values – individual freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Therefore, neither coercion, nor dictatorship, nor authoritarianism, nor the free will of those at the top will prevail except where force is the dominant rule in societies governed by ex-Soviet customs.
THE NORTH ATLANTIC ALLIANCE IS NOT A GEOPOLITICAL FAD
NATO has become a guarantee of balanced development, protected by the dreaded – for adversaries – Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against all the Parties, and they therefore agree that if such action occurs, each of them in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised in Art. 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will support the Party or Parties under attack by taking immediately, individually and jointly with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain security in the North Atlantic area. Any such armed attack and any measures taken as a result thereof will be immediately reported to the Security Council. Such measures will cease after the Security Council has adopted the necessary regulations for the restoration and maintenance of international peace and security.” But knowingly, on 24 February 2022, the leaders in Moscow violated all the rules and principles that have contributed to stable and predictable European order and security. Therefore, from the moment of the Madrid Summit, NATO can no longer ignore the possibility of an attack against the sovereignty and territories of its allies, and the Euro-Atlantic area will have to strengthen its defences. Understandable strategic competition in peacetime, widespread instability – from present aggression but also from other possible invasions – and recurrent shocks define a wider security environment. The Russo-Ukrainian war is a warning to Asian states of the possibility of a replay through China’s invasion of Taiwan, preceded by heavy aerial bombardment.
NATO’s new strategic concept identifies the Russian Federation as the most significant and direct threat to the security of allies, peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.
For this reason, NATO’s defence posture will triple on the Alliance’s eastern border, with additional troops providing combat brigades in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
Adding 5,000 more troops to the US troops already deployed in Romania confirms our strategic partner’s determination to defend every inch of NATO territory, as US President Joe Biden said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Madrid.
Decisions taken by world leaders at NATO summit in Madrid 29 JUN 2022
Allies have decided on the new Strategic Concept, the blueprint for NATO in a more dangerous and unpredictable world, as Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. Russia goes from strategic partner to direct threat and for the first time in the NATO concept, China is mentioned as a challenge to Western values. At the NATO summit in Madrid, leaders agreed a series of radical changes to the Western military alliance, including an increase in the number of troops deployed in Europe. This means 300,000 troops across the continent will be placed on high alert in case Russia threatens a military attack against any NATO member. Finland and Sweden will be formally invited to join. The response will be devastating and the Russian Federation will become a mere memory in the context of a global confrontation in which no one will be the winner if decisions in Moscow are taken on the spur of the moment.
From such a perspective, the allies’ new strategic concept reaffirms that NATO’s key aim is to ensure collective defence based on a 360-degree approach, i.e. against any adversary, wherever it comes from.
In Madrid, heads of state and government agreed on the Alliance’s three core tasks: deterrence and defence, crisis prevention and management, and cooperative security. What do these 300,000 NATO “rapid reaction forces” actually mean? These are already existing forces of allied states that they integrate into NATO planning and can make available to NATO military commanders at any time. It is not a question of ‘extra’ forces, but simply of military organisation. Whereas today these forces should be ready to deploy at full capacity in no more than 15 days in any corner of the Alliance, the new target of 300,000 would operate on a phased basis: about 100,000 should be ready to fight in 10 days, and the remaining 200,000 – in 30 days. In addition, these forces would be assigned to specific regions within NATO, Stoltenberg explained.
The new strategic concept provides NATO’s major lines of action for at least the next decade. Thus, in the context of the dramatic security developments generated by the war in Ukraine, the allies have decided to strengthen the long-term allied posture of deterrence and defence on the Eastern flank.
NATO forces will be assigned specific allies to defend
One of the significant changes agreed is that forces will be assigned to defend specific allies.
Britain will allocate an extra 1000 British troops and provide one of two new aircraft carriers to defend Estonia, writes The Guardian.
The UK has around 1700 troops deployed in Estonia.
President Joe Biden announced the deployment of a brigade of 3,000 troops in Romania
The President of the United States announced Wednesday at the NATO summit in Madrid that the US will significantly increase its deployment of forces in Europe, including Romania.
Joe Biden also announced the formation of a battle group in Romania. According to official sources, this is a different structure to the existing one coordinated by France, which is already in formation.
“We will maintain additional rotating brigades: 3000 fighters and 2000 personnel based in Romania. We will enhance our rotational strategy for teams deployed in the Baltic States,” Joe Biden said on Wednesday 30 June 2022. The US President also announced the presence of two squadrons of F-35 fighter jets in the UK and two Navy destroyers in Spain.
Heavy equipment pre-positioned near Russian border
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, explained that the new strategy is heavy equipment positioned near NATO borders, with the ability to move people quickly to where they are needed.
Ahead of the 2022 NATO summit in Madrid, Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said NATO’s existing defence plans would give Russia time to wipe Tallinn off the map before Western troops could be deployed.
Russia has been identified as the main threat to NATO. A new document has been published claiming that Russia’s invasion is the reason behind Russia’s change in status from NATO partner to ‘threat.
“Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has destroyed peace and seriously altered our security. The brutal, illegal invasion, repeated human rights violations and attacks, and heinous atrocities have caused untold suffering.” Finland and Sweden formally invited to join NATO
An agreement agreed between Finland, Sweden and Turkey has paved the way for the two Baltic states to be formally invited into the alliance. Their accession must now be ratified individually by the parliaments of all 30 existing allies.
Defence spending to rise
NATO’s target of 2% of each country’s GDP to be spent on defence will in future be seen as “a threshold rather than a ceiling”, Stoltenberg said.
A new environmental impact policy
The NATO alliance also agreed on a new way of calculating the cost of defence carbon emissions.
Stoltenberg described the climate crisis as a “defining challenge of our time” and said the alliance “cannot choose between having green armies or strong armies. It has to be both”.
Strengthening cyber defence and energy resilience. NATO pledged to step up cooperation on cyber warfare and promised to “ensure reliable energy supplies for our military forces”.
Attention also turned to China
The NATO document states that China’s “malicious hybrid and cyber operations, as well as its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation, target allies” and that China’s “stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values”.
NATO has agreed on a support package aimed at modernising Ukraine’s military. “We stand in full solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine in the heroic defence of their country.”
The leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea attended a NATO summit for the first time.
What are we left with after this wartime NATO summit? If you were to sort just three big themes from the amalgam of speeches, promises and decisions made at the Madrid summit, these would certainly be it:
- Strengthening the boots-on-the-ground policy on the Eastern Flank, from Poland and the Baltics to Romania, from which the first permanent US military command in the East symbolically emerges in Poland.
- The Strategic Concept, on which NATO operates, is changed to make Russia the Alliance’s number one enemy, and the Black Sea and the Western Balkans are mentioned as areas of strategic interest.
- NATO’s ‘open door’ enlargement policy, which has not shied away from Russian aggression, but has even flexed its muscles with Finland and Sweden. And it continues to support Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
For Romania, the Madrid summit means achieving many goals, including stepping up support for partners in the eastern neighbourhood, including Moldova and Georgia, and increasing the American presence in our country and, by extension, in the region.
At the regional level, the Black Sea (along with the Western Balkans) is for the first time mentioned as an area of strategic importance for NATO.
Also a gain for Romania’s defence are the additional forces that NATO will deploy on its territory, along with the US, and the repositioning of equipment on the territory of each allied state in the eastern area.
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