By Greg Smith
As previously covered in this blog, the best immediate response for NATO to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is to prevent access for Russian commercial and naval vessels to enter or exit the Black Sea.
One advantage of a naval blockade is it would require very limited air and naval forces, which would still be within striking distance of Iran. The U.S. Navy has grown smaller so a response that does not require a large number of ships would be preferable. The U.S. has F-22s in the region and could quickly have B-1s, which no longer have a nuclear role but can be fitted with anti-ship bombs and missiles. A blockade would be inexpensive, and Russia would not dare seriously test it.
NATO should immediately place a handful of old, expendable ships outside the Turkish Straights to act as a blockade curtain. The Russians may think we won’t risk a billion dollar cruiser in a collision, but the hockey crazy nation will understand the idea of a floating goon.
The best reason for a blockade is strategic: Russian access to the Mediterranean Sea is critical to Russia’s goal of becoming more a power equal to the U.S. Eliminating that access renders the Russian naval base nearly useless, an enormous strategic blow without firing a shot. Russia then has to decide to win a Pyrrhic victory or admit defeat. Russia would be forewarned its actions will seriously impair Vladimir Putin’s desperate desire to globally project military power.
Failure of the U.S. or NATO to act decisively will only invite further aggression, especially as it appears Russia’s incursion is intended to carve a Crimean slice off Ukraine. If the U.S. allows this to happen, which Baltic country is next on the menu?
Russia has used the Black Sea fleet to blockade the sovereign nations of Georgia and now Ukraine, it has no right to complain if another nation blockade’s the Black Sea fleet. A blockade is the best way to diffuse this crisis while preventing another. Why Washington won’t consider an essentially peaceful use of military power is beyond comprehension. ©
Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.