Is US Conspiring to Sink Russian Black Sea Fleet Ships?
Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst
On 20 May, in an exclusive for Reuters, the US government announced it would be providing advanced anti-ship and land-attack missiles to the Kiev regime, in yet another major escalatory move aiming to prolong the conflict and make it as bloody as possible for both sides. While some might dismiss such statements as simply being a part of the information, or more precisely, disinformation war, they should be taken extremely seriously, as it certainly wouldn’t be the first time the political West, with the US at its helm, delivered advanced weapons to the Kiev regime. To make matters worse, an adviser employed by the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Anton Gerashchenko, stated that the US will be “sinking Russian ships in the Black Sea.” His exact (now deleted) tweet stated:
“The US is preparing a plan to destroy the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet. The effective work of the Ukrainians on [Russian] warships convinced [the US] to prepare a plan to unblock the [Ukrainian] ports. Deliveries of powerful anti-ship weapons are being discussed.”
The Ukrainian official was referring to the aforementioned Reuters report on the US plan to provide the regime with the old “Harpoon” anti-ship missiles, as well as the newer and more advanced NSM (Naval Strike Missile), which can be used both as an anti-ship or land-attack weapon. The “Harpoon” is a subsonic, all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile developed and manufactured by Boeing Defense, Space & Security (historically McDonnell Douglas) with a range of up to 220-250 km (depending on the source), costing around $1.5 million apiece. The NSM, also a subsonic missile, has a dual, anti-ship and land-attack capability. The missile’s exact range is classified, but it can go as far as 200 km or more, depending on the flight profile. It costs up to $2.2 million per unit.
Three State Department officials and two Congressional sources told Reuters that the White House was still working on the details for providing the Kiev regime with these advanced weapons. According to the sources, logistical issues and “the possibility the US would have to remove a launcher from one of its ships to send to Ukraine are current obstacles to completing the transfer”. Rather disturbingly, when responding to a question from Newsweek, the State Department did not deny it was working on a plan to target the Russian Black Sea fleet. “As the conflict is changing, so too is our military assistance to deliver the critical capabilities Ukraine needs for today’s fight as Russia’s forces engage in a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine,” a spokesperson said.
However, the US DoD (Department of Defense) did issue a denial of the controversial claims made by the Ukrainian Internal Ministry’s official. “I can tell you definitively that that’s not true,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters last Thursday. Still, the Pentagon’s denial refers only to the Ukrainian official’s claim the US was going to enable Ukraine to sink the Black Sea fleet and did not apply to the proposed anti-ship missiles transfer, which further adds to the confusion regarding this very serious issue.
It also remains unclear how Ukraine would be able to target Russian ships by itself. The US and NATO would either need to provide Ukraine with the necessary ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities or, worse yet, directly provide ISR information on the location and possible movement of Russian Black Sea fleet ships, which the Kremlin might see as an act of war. The US government, including US President Joe Biden, and the military continue to give controversial and ambiguous statements, oftentimes denying what was clearly stated by their colleagues, which greatly contributes to the atmosphere of distrust and exponentially increases the likelihood of an uncontrollable escalation.
Gerashchenko’s claims that the attack would help to open up Ukraine’s ports are both false and misplaced, as the Kiev regime was the party which released hundreds of sea mines, many of which drifted apart as far as the Bosphorus, over 600 km to the south of Odessa. Russia currently controls the Black Sea and maintains a blockade. However, the blockade is not aimed against civilian shipping, but possible major NATO arms deliveries to the Kiev regime forces. The United Nations has called for an easing of restrictions in the Black Sea to allow food exports from Ukraine to help alleviate global food shortages.
Russia offered a diplomatic solution. Last Thursday, the Russian government proposed lifting the blockage in exchange for the removal of sanctions. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated the problem clearly goes beyond the military blockade and includes Western sanctions which are restricting fertilizer exports. “You have to not only appeal to the Russian Federation but also look deeply at the whole complex of reasons that caused the current food crisis. [Sanctions] interfere with normal free trade, encompassing food products including wheat, fertilizers and others,” Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said.
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