Sanders, D. (2012). Between Rhetoric and Reality: The Decline of Russian Maritime Power in the Black Sea? Mediterranean Quarterly, 23(4), 43-68.
Russia’s interests in the Black Sea, Sanders argues, can be explained by the historical importance of Crimea and the port of Sevastopol. In particular, for Russia, the Black Sea provides means to advance, protect, and demonstrate its power status. Russia also maintains its preeminent position as one of the most powerful states in the Black Sea, and extends its powers into the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and beyond.
The author examines Russia’s maritime power in the Black Sea region by analyzing the prospects of Russian government’s recent plans to modernize Russian Black Sea Fleet and increase its military and technical capacity. Maritime power is defined as the varied military and nonmilitary means required to advance the diverse array of political objectives that states seek to achieve in the maritime domain. Since maritime power is a subset of military power, the military assets and capabilities a state has will affect and shape its ability to use the sea for political effect. Nonmilitary assets in this particular case include Russia’s access to maritime infrastructure in Sevastopol as well as the relations with Ukraine and other countries in the region. Such qualitative indicators as personnel training and morale serve as important predictors of Russia’s maritime power, alongside with the quantitative measures of the maritime power.
The author’s analysis of quantitative and qualitative factors of maritime power demonstrates that Russia’s maritime power in the Black Sea region is unlikely to increase. According to Sanders, Russia not only will have significantly fewer maritime platforms in the Black Sea, but its ability to use the maritime domain will also be compromised by ongoing qualitative problems and poor relations with key regional actors, such as the United States and littoral states such as Georgia and Romania. The Black Sea Fleet will continue to have significant gaps in core capabilities, such as air support, despite the efforts to modernize it. Even if Russia operates a relatively small but powerful navy, its maritime power could still be compromised by the lack of investment in support elements, such as air and land forces. Additionally, resupply and upgrade of the Russian fleet are greatly dependent upon its relations with Ukraine, which introduces a degree of uncertainty. Finally, the low pay, inadequate pensions and lack of housing options for navy personnel are significantly lowering the morale of the personnel. All these issues have a negative impact on the overall Russia’s maritime power and hamper the prospects of its expansion.
Sanders, D. (2007). Rhetoric and Reality: Can Ukraine Create an Effective Navy to Protect its Interests in the Black Sea? European security, 16(2), 143-161.
The paper argues that an efficient and well run Ukrainian coastal navy that is inherently defensive in its orientation can maintain good order at the sea and protect Ukraine’s security as well as the stability and security in the region. Although since the Orange Revolution Ukraine has been developing a balanced, flexible and deployable coastal navy able to engage in a full spectrum of defense activities, the continued progress is likely to be hampered by the high cost of naval transformation, the challenges of democratic consolidation and friction between Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea.
Ukraine has several strategic interests in the Black Sea Region including commercial, energy and security concerns. The Black Sea serves as a transit route for Ukrainian goods to European and international markets; Ukraine has an interest in protecting and exploring drilling rights in the continental shelf; and an effective coastal navy would allow Ukraine to protect its coastal waters from the consequences of “frozen” regional conflicts (the rise of terrorism, organized crime, trafficking). Thus, Ukraine is not seeking to compete with other naval powers, instead its aims are to develop an efficient and effective coastal navy that is inherently defensive and can maintain its international obligations. In this respect, Ukraine’s participation in naval exercises and peacekeeping missions with NATO members is important for Ukraine’s political and military goals.
Ukraine’s naval reform pursues three main goals: developing coastal capabilities; developing and training naval personnel; and developing an adequate naval support infrastructure. However, as this paper argues, there is likely to be a gap between these objectives and the reality of the reform. Firstly, the ongoing friction between Russia and Ukraine over the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol is likely to slow down the naval reform. Secondly, substantial progress in naval transformation is dependent on Ukraine’s successful transition to a market economy, and poor economic progress in Ukraine will constrain the ability of the government to engage in naval reform. Thirdly, the challenges of democratic consolidation after the Orange Revolution are likely to hamper the naval transformation.
Sanders, D. (2012). Ukraine's Maritime Power in the Black Sea— A Terminal Decline? The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, 25(1), 17-34.
This paper uses the literature on maritime power to explore how Ukraine’s ability to use the sea declined significantly over the last five years. The author argues that chronic underfunding of Ukraine’s military transformation, recent decisions taken by the government to extend the Russia’s lease of Sevastopol and to declare its non-alignment status, and ongoing domestic political instability have all damaged Ukraine’s maritime power. Poor military assets is only one contributor to Ukraine’s problems; such non-military factors as Ukraine’s ability to use and control its maritime infrastructure in Sevastopol and the continued Russian military presence also worsen Ukraine’s prospects to enhance its maritime power in the Black Sea Region. The paper also discusses the importance of international military exercises that make up almost a quarter of military training in Ukraine. Although the number of exercises increased over time, political instability diminishes the prospects of conducting such exercises on a systematic basis and thus limits Ukraine’s ability to take a full advantage of these opportunities. The slow process of state building and domestic instability are the major internal structural obstacles to successful military and navy reforms in Ukraine.
The paper concludes that unless the Ukrainian government revisits its foreign policy goal of non-alignment or invests significantly in the Ukrainian navy over the next few years, both of which are unlikely, it will lose its capability to independently operate in and protect its maritime domain. Even the improved relations with key players on the Black Sea such as Turkey and the United States will not fully compensate for the decline in Ukraine’s maritime power.
Japaridze, T. (2010). The Black Sea - a Key Strategic Corridor In F. Houston, W. D. Wood & D. M. Robinson (Eds.), Black Sea Security: International Cooperation and Counter-trafficking in the Black Sea Region (Vol. 74, pp. 17-23): IOS Press.
The chapter highlights the strategic importance of the Black Sea region as a strategic corridor between Europe, Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East. According to the author, the region is not just a distinct locale with its own strategic identity but rather a junction point where the convergent vectors of strategic dynamics originating outside the region come together and could significantly alter the way the Black sea countries and other states view future security challenges and opportunities. In this region history, culture, politics, prejudices, psychology, collective and institutional memory are deeply intertwined. At the same time, there are a few notable problems in the region that require collective action to be resolved. These problems include frozen conflicts, loose or even nonexistent customs and border controls in many of the post-Soviet territories, and the role of the region as a transit zone for the illegal movement of goods and people. Hence, tackling these issues is an important precondition of establishing and maintaining the regional security.
Wood, D. (2010). Executive Summary: Prospects for Black Sea Security Cooperation. In F. Houston, W. D. Wood & D. M. Robinson (Eds.), Black Sea Security: International Cooperation and Counter-trafficking in the Black Sea Region (Vol. 74, pp. 3-8): IOS Press.
The Black Sea Region is a critical strategic corridor between East and West with major security challenges including energy supply, illicit trafficking, unresolved regional conflicts in Georgia with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia with Chechnya, Moldova with Transdnistria, Turkey with the Kurds, and neighboring conflicts in areas such as Iraq and Iran. The author argues that security in the region is no longer just a military issue, as it has been characterized by the uncontrollable proliferation of technology, a growing gap between rich and poor countries and the information revolution. Some of the specific issues requiring urgent address include: East-West energy traffic characterized by political instability; East-West smuggling of counterfeit goods; East-West illicit drugs traffic and West-East drugs persecution traffic; East-West human traffic; radiological and nuclear materials traffic; and North-South improvised explosives devices traffic.