Militarization of the Black Sea


The Black Sea «Grain Corridor» between September 2022 - March 2023 — New Highlights

17 March 2023
The average daily number of ships arriving at the ports of Odesa as part of the «Black Sea Grain Initiative» is one of the indicators of military risks for the region. While in September 2022, it averaged 5.9 vessels per day, in October – 5.1, in November 2022 – 3.3, in December – 3.2, in January 2023 – 2.8, in February – 2.5 and between March 1-10, 2023 – 2.8 vessels per day. The decrease is the result of Russia conscious policy of inspecting no more than 3-4 vessels per day as part of its joint inspections with Turkey. The RF agreement to extend the «grain initiative» for 60, instead of the previous 120 days, is predetermined by the single factor — the May 14, 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey.

A fleet of drones and the new naval warfare

24 February 2023
Such modern naval warfare does not render International Law irrelevant. On the contrary, the distinction between applicable legal regimes and possible classifications become even more crucial for the sake of clarity and predictability of law and warfare. Here it is necessary to differentiate between 2 distinct regimes applicable to naval drones used either in times of peace or during an ongoing armed conflict. The latter is clearly the case of Sevastopol and Novorossiysk drone attacks conducted in the framework of military hostilities between Russia and Ukraine “plainly engaged in an international armed conflict’.

The "grain corridor" in the Black Sea in September-December 2022. Important statistics

22 January 2023
The average number of vessels arriving per day at the ports of Odesa as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is one of the indicators of military risks. In September 2022, it was 5.9 vessels per day; in October – 5.1; in November – 3.3; and in December – 3.2. That is, in November, as a result of Russia’s deliberate actions, the number of vessels receiving permits for voyages to Ukrainian ports almost halved. Blocking the "grain corridor" remains an integral part of Putin's plan for a new stage of the war. That is, in the event of a new Russian offensive, the "grain corridor" may be blocked.

The presence of Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea as of 6 November 2022

06 November 2022
As we have predicted earlier, Russia continues the reduction and rotation of its naval group in the Mediterranean. On 16 October 2022, 2 missile corvettes of the Russian Baltic Fleet - (531) Soobrazitelnyi and (545) Stoikiy - entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar. On 21 October 2022, the missile cruiser (011) Varyag, the flagship of the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Federation (PF), the large anti-submarine ship (564) Admiral Tributs (PF), and the oil tanker/supply ship Boris Butoma left the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal.

Production of military products at the captured plants of occupied Crimea in 2014-2022

03 November 2022
Russia’s failures in the all-out war against Ukraine and the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have turned the Crimean Peninsula not only into a region near the frontline but also into an area of limited hostilities. This has created a fundamentally new reality in occupied Crimea — the anticipation of the Ukrainian offensive on the occupied peninsula, which affects all spheres of life there. These factors have put an end to the prospects of the Crimean economy sectors that under the occupation had been considered the primary ones — first of all, the defence industry.

The “grain corridor”: Russia has artificially increased the waiting time for the inspection of ships carrying Ukrainian grain in the Sea of Marmara

01 November 2022
Since 18 September 2022, the waiting time for the “grain fleet” vessels to be inspected by the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in the Sea of Marmara has increased by 5 times and reached 11.3 days per vessel. Such a situation is totally disadvantageous for 3 out of 4 participants of the "grain initiative" - the UN, Turkey, and Ukraine. Our main assumption is that Russia is once again using this situation in connection with other issues - for example, the ceasefire on the front line, which is located at a distance of 40-60 km from the grain corridor area.

The Presence of Russian Warships in the Mediterranean Sea as of 10 October 2022

12 October 2022
As of October 10, 2022, the confirmed composition of the Russian Navy ship group in the Mediterranean Sea includes 8 warships — 6 of which missile — and 3 auxiliary vessels. On September 19, 2022, the Baltic Fleet reconnaissance ship Vasiliy Tatishchev left the Mediterranean Sea via Gibraltar and on September 24, 2022, — the Black Sea Fleet missile submarine Novorossiysk accompanied by the Sergey Balk tug. We maintain that the Russian Navy will continue this Mediterranean Sea rotation in the near future.

Russia's use of the territory of occupied Crimea for aggression against Ukraine and creating a threat to the countries of the region

05 October 2022
Russia's use of the territory of occupied Crimea for aggression against Ukraine and creating a threat to the countries of the region

The Presence of Russian Warships in the Mediterranean Sea as of 15 September 2022

16 September 2022
In late summer of 2022, Russia began the rotation of part of its warships in the Mediterranean Sea. missile ships of the Northern Fleet, a reconnaissance ship of the Black Sea Fleet, 2 oil tankers of the Black Sea and Northern Fleets were withdrawn from the Mediterranean Sea. As of 15 September 2022, the confirmed composition of the Russian Navy squadron in the Mediterranean Sea includes 10 ships (7 of which are missile ships) and 4 auxiliary vessels. If another missile submarine is officially confirmed to be in the Mediterranean, the total number of ships will change from 10 to 11, and the number of missile ships will rise from 7 to 8.

The Presence of Russian Warships in the Mediterranean Sea as of 10 May 2022

11 May 2022
As of 10 May 2022, the same naval group is present in the Mediterranean Sea as was on 7 February 2022 - i.e. no changes have taken place over the last 3 months. There are 13 ships and 5 support vessels of the four Russian fleets, including 9 attack missile ships. This situation is a consequence of Turkey’s decision, which was announced on 27 February 2022, to ban the passage through the straits of any warships, including ships of non-Black Sea NATO countries

WARNING! Real danger at sea: Russia has mined the recommended routes from the Bosphorus to Odessa, blaming it on Ukraine

19 March 2022
On March 18, 2022, the seaport of Sochi sent a warning to shipowners and ship captains in the region about the threat of "detonation of the Ukrainian Navy mines drifting in the Black Sea."

The Presence of Russian Warships in the Mediterranean Sea as of 9 March 2022

09 March 2022
The formation of a huge "Mediterranean Squadron" of the Russian Navy in February 2022, using the Northern, Baltic, and Pacific Fleets’ ships allowed the Russian Black Sea Fleet to return a large number of ships to the Black Sea a few days (weeks) before Russia’s attack on Ukraine. In addition, Russia redeployed 7 amphibious assault ships from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, including 6 major amphibious assault ships of the Northern and Baltic Fleets. However, the fact that Russia has failed to redeploy additional powerful missile surface combatants to the Black Sea has called into question the effectiveness of a possible amphibious operation on the Ukrainian Black Sea coast.

Increased Risks. Obstruction of Traffic in the Black and Azov Seas by Russia due to the Closure of Sea Areas for Military Exercises as of 15 February 2022

15 February 2022
This analytical review presents the results and conclusions made by the Monitoring Group of Black Sea Institute of Strategic Studies and the editorial board of BlackSeaNews based on monitoring in January-February 2022 the following area: Obstruction of traffic in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov by the Russian Federation due to closures of sea areas for or under the pretext of military exercises.

The Presence of Russian Warships in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea in January 2022

01 February 2022
In January 2022, the number of Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea changed dramatically. 6 major landing ships from the Baltic and Northern Fleets joined the "Mediterranean Squadron" of the Russian Federation. A missile cruiser and a missile frigate from the Pacific Fleet are expected to arrive via the Suez Canal. Thus, in February 2022, the Russian naval group in the Mediterranean Sea will have 18 major warships, including 8 missile ships (in December 2021, these figures were 8 and 5 respectively)

The 2021-January 2022 presence of non-Black Sea NATO states’ warships in the Black Sea

26 January 2022
According to the Monitoring Group’s data, as of January 25, 2022, in 2022, only one non-Black Sea NATO state warship stayed in the Black Sea. That is, at the time when the Russian military threat to Ukraine has dramatically escalated in January 2022, warships of the non-Black Sea NATO have been absent in the Black Sea for 21 days, obviously increasing the risk of aggression from the sea over the holidays