Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The head of the Ukrainian Institute of Foreign Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Academy of Ukraine Grigory Perepelitsa on the air of “Radio Svoboda” said that “Russia turned Crimea into a powerful regional military base that has strategic importance. Thanks to this, Russia achieved complete control in all the water area of the Black Sea and in all the airspace of the Black Sea region, having increased a powerful aviation group. The task of this group is to change the balance of forces between Russia and NATO on the Eastern flank of the alliance”.
According to Perepelitsa, this is embodied in the number of jets that are today based in Crimea: since the moment of the reunion of Crimea with the Russian Federation they became fivefold more (from 22 to 112 units), and among planes strategic missile carriers also appeared.
As a result, notes the expert, thanks to Crimea, Russia managed to change the balance of forces in the region that is key for its safety – the Black Sea. If five years ago the power of the Eastern flank of the North Atlantic bloc was called into question by very few people, then Russia has now obtained a strategic advantage over NATO and “smashed this flank”.
At the same time, the Ukrainian expert notes that “NATO can oppose this only with a limited entrance of ships in the Black Sea”. The reason for this is the restriction on the number of warships of alliance in the Black Sea stipulated by the Montreux Convention. For this reason, Ukrainian experts report about NATO having a “big problem” – the impossibility to “restore the balance” on the Eastern flank.
In addition, the influence of Crimea extends far beyond the Black Sea, claims Perepelitsa. The bases located on the peninsula were always a springboard allowing to control the Middle East and the Eastern part of the Mediterranean, which Russia today “does very successfully” (the expert cites as an example the deployment of troops in Syria). It follows from this that for NATO “the situation is threatening”, concluded the expert.
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