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Why Is the Black Sea Crucial To Russia?

Context:

The sinking of the huge Russian warship Moskva whether due to a Ukrainian missile strike or, as Russia claims, a fire on board — is a serious setback for Russia in the Black Sea.

Relevance:

GS II- International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Black Sea
  2. Russia and the Black Sea
  3. Black Sea in the Ukraine war
  4. Sinking of the Moskva

About the Black Sea

  • The Black Sea is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia; east of the Balkans (Southeast Europe), south of the East European Plain in Eastern Europe, west of the Caucasus, and north of Anatolia in Western Asia.
  • The Black Sea is bordered by Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
  • The Black Sea ultimately drains into the Mediterranean Sea, via the Turkish Straits and the Aegean Sea.
  • The Bosporus Strait connects it to the small Sea of Marmara which in turn is connected to the Aegean Sea via the Strait of the Dardanelles. To the north, the Black Sea is connected to the Sea of Azov by the Kerch Strait.

Russia and the Black Sea

  • The famed water body bound by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west, which links to the Sea of Marmara through the Bosphorus and then to the Aegean through the Dardanelles, has traditionally been Russia’s warm water gateway to Europe.
  • For Russia, the Black Sea is both a stepping stone to the Mediterranean as well as a strategic buffer between NATO and itself.
  • Domination of the Black Sea region is a geostrategic imperative for Moscow, both to project Russian power in the Mediterranean and to secure the economic gateway to key markets in southern Europe.

Black Sea in the Ukraine war

  • Russia has been making efforts to gain complete control over the Black Sea since the Crimean crisis of 2014.
  • During the ongoing invasion, the domination of the Black Sea has been a major Russian objective, along with the land bridge to connect Russia and Crimea.
  • As such, there have been intense efforts to capture Mariupol, the Sea of Azov port in the breakaway eastern Ukrainian oblast of Donetsk.

Sinking of the Moskva

  • Russian news outlets have described the Moskva as one of the Russian Navy’s biggest ships.
  • It had been deployed by Moscow to the coast of Georgia during the 12-day war over South Ossetia and Abkhazia in August 2008, and to support Russian troops and equipment in Syria in 2015.
  • After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, ships of the Black Sea Fleet, including the Moskva, fired a barrage of missiles into Ukraine, and blocked the country’s access to the Black Sea.
  • The sinking of the Moskva is believed to be the worst loss in the history of naval warfare since the sinking of the Argentine naval cruiser General Belgrano by a British submarine on May 2, 1982, during the Falklands War.
  • The fact that the Moskva was sunk by shore-based anti-ship cruise missiles which took advantage of bad weather and used decoy UAV attacks to defeat the ship’s air defence systems demonstrates the success of outside-the-box measures adopted by Ukraine in the war.

-Source: Indian Express

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