Black Sea update: USN not off Ukraine

Interesting times.

Congratulations to Russia.  Some of her senior officials are as, er, misguided as some of ours.

Liberty Unyielding’s Kenric Ward reported earlier that Colonel General Leonid Ivashov has claimed the U.S. is “at war” with Russia over Ukraine.  (Ivashov is not in a military command or staff position now, but serves as vice president for the Academy of Geopolitical Affairs.  He has a history of stirring things up.)

Ivashov took up the refrain of some of the opposition elements in Ukraine, arguing that the presence of U.S. Navy warships in the Black Sea is a precursor to a NATO action of some kind to undermine the Yanukovych government:

Ivashov reported that “under the cover of information commotion, U.S. ships are entering the Black Sea, that is, near Ukraine. They are sending marine infantry, and they have also begun to deploy more tanks in Europe.”

The general has been poorly briefed.  The U.S. Navy ships may be closer to Ukraine in the Black Sea than they would be if they were in ports in Italy, but they’re still over on the other side of the Black Sea from Ukraine.

According to Turkish press, USS Taylor (FFG-50), the frigate in the Black Sea, entered the Turkish naval base at Samsun on Wednesday morning, 12 February, for a visit of unannounced duration.  (See map.  This seems to suggest we’re not at high warble for Sochi security, incidentally.)

This Russian website (along with the Bosphorus Naval News/ site) has been keeping tabs on the patrol activities of USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) and Taylor, and indicates they have been patrolling in international waters in the area shown on the map.  (The Russian site also references Taylor’s move from her patrol area to Samsun.)

Keeping the southeastern Black Sea safe for democracy. (Google map; author annotations.  See text for ship tracking credits.)
Keeping the southeastern Black Sea safe for democracy. (Google map; author annotations. See text for ship tracking credits.)

Neither ship, in any case, is a platform that could project sufficient U.S. power ashore to influence events in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is sending Marines in March to man the Black Sea Rotational Force (BSRF) in Romania.  The Marine footprint in-country will not change; the units will swap out.  The BSRF has been in place since 2010, and performs a number of regional engagement missions.  Its 300-some Marines and sailors are far too small a force to “wage war with Russia” over Ukraine.

As for the tanks alluded to by General Ivashov, they amount to a grand total of 29 M1A2 Abrams tanks, which have been shipped to Germany following refurbishment.  That’s all the tanks the U.S. has in Europe now.  It’s enough to train with, but nothing close to enough to project or exercise military power with.  The tanks are stationed in Germany with 33 Bradley fighting vehicles, also too few for operational use in any foreseeable scenario involving Ukraine or Russia.

Now, as to the veracity of John Kerry’s diplomatic communications, I can’t help the general.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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6 thoughts on “Black Sea update: USN not off Ukraine”

  1. Yeah, I’m going to take the word of General Ivashov before I believe some old right wing blogger/apologist for America. I just think he has better credentials than…. what were yours again other than just linking to MSM? Oh, but isn’t that the “liberal” media that you so despise and pretend that you are against most of the time? I think it’s time to put this grandma in a home.

    1. Oh, and I did a little research myself, also in the MSM, and guess what ABC news and others quote government officials saying they are upping the military presence in the Black Sea, although they claim it is just for security in Sochi. Maybe you need to quit cherry picking your evidence but then again you conservatives sure are good at that.
      So, let’s see, we have an increased military presence in the area during an Olympics where our proxy and special ally Saudi Arabia has threatened to carry out acts of terror. And nearby we are fomenting mobs of fascists, literal fascists, to overthrow the government and join NATO. We have state department officials like Victoria Nuland and village idiots like John McCain inciting these crowds to violence (imagine if Putin had put in an appearance at Occupy Wall St., optimistic conservatives like yourself would have had quite the hissy fit probably calling for his assassination). But you’re right, it’s Ivashov who likes to stir things up.

    2. It is refreshing to read comments presented in a serious, factual way. Very thought provoking, concise, even handed.
      Thank you Mr./Ms. 2000 for presenting your heart felt opinions without stooping to low brow, shallow,and might I say, boring remarks.
      Well done indeed!

  2. It’s still seems likely that the worst can be avoided in Ukraine.

    I do wish the Ivashov’s and their ‘Western” (whatever that means nowadays) opposite numbers would just sit down. stop cussin’, stop handing out cookies and shut up. Europe has enough problems without having another world war on its hands.

    It will come to that if the zero sum nonsense continues. In the Russian mind, Ukraine is not Yugoslavia. They will fight for her if pushed too far.

    On another note
    I do value your work Optcon. AND. I love this blog 🙂

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