Why dominating Black Sea is crucial to Russia

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Why dominating Black Sea is crucial to Russia

  • The sinking of the warship Moskva, the 600-foot, 12,500-tonne flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is a serious setback for Russia.


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  • The reversal is both military and symbolic, proof that its vessels can no longer operate with impunity, and a damaging blow to morale.
  • It lifts Ukrainian hopes, demonstrating the defenders’ homegrown technological capacity, and exposing a weakness in the Russian navy’s anti-missile defenses.

The Black Sea region

  • It is surrounded by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west.
  • 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.
  • The Black Sea is both a stepping stone to the Mediterranean as well as a strategic buffer between NATO and Russia.
  • Domination of the Black Sea region is a geostrategic imperative for Russia 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.

  • There have been intense efforts to capture Mariupol, the Sea of Azov port in the breakaway eastern Ukrainian oblast of Donetsk.
  • The capture of Mariupol will complete Russia’s land bridge to Crimea, give it control over more than 80 percent of the Ukrainian Black Sea coastline, and cut off its maritime trade.
  • Russia is focusing its military efforts on Odessa, to the west of Crimea.
  • Once the Odessa region falls, Ukraine would lose access to its entire Black Sea coastline and would in effect be a landlocked country.
  • Odessa is also the largest region in Ukraine which serves as an important energy and transport corridor with abundant natural resources.
  • The Rhine-Main-Danube canal connects the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea and the port of Odessa serves as a vital link between Ukraine and the outside world.

Black Sea Fleet

  • It has a long history, and is considered to have been founded back in 1783.
  • It comprises warships of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea.
  • It assists with the defense of southern maritime approaches to Russia, it also allows use of Black Sea as a jumping off point into the eastern and central Mediterranean.

Sinking of the Moskva

The sinking of the Moskva is the worst loss in the history of naval warfare since the sinking of the Argentine naval cruiser General Belgrano by a British submarine during the Falklands War.

  • The Moskva was sunk by shore-based anti-ship cruise missiles which took advantage of bad weather and used decoy UAV attacks.
  • The defeat of the ship's air defense systems demonstrates the success of outside-the-box measures adopted by Ukraine in the war.


  • Russia has now suffered damage to two key naval assets since invading Ukraine.
  • Both events will likely lead to Russia to review its maritime posture in the Black Sea.

Exam Track

Prelims Takeaway

  • Black Sea
  • Russia-Ukraine war
  • Black sea Fleet and Moskva ship

Mains Takeaway

Q. Ukrainian response to ongoing war with Russia exposed loopholes in Russian military and naval capabilities to the world, Elaborate.