The deployment of THAAD missiles to Romania and increased naval activity in the Black Sea show that NATO intends to continue its militarization of this strategic space at the expense of Russia’s security.
The Black Sea became a global flashpoint after Russia’s 2014 reunification with Crimea catapulted the region’s strategic significance to the world’s attention and drew the consternation of Moscow’s NATO foes who had speculatively hoped to occupy the peninsula and eventually evict the Russian naval base there in the aftermath of the EuroMaidan coup. The majority-Russian people of this former part of Ukraine prevented that from happening by staging a democratic referendum to reunite with their ancestral homeland that they were arbitrarily separated from by Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev in 1954, which therefore retained the balance of power in the Black Sea region that the West had tried to disrupt through its post-coup plans for Crimea. Nevertheless, the US and its allies aren’t easily convinced to abandon a strategy once they set their minds to achieving it, ergo the latest military escalations that they’re planning in the area.
NATO’s European Command (EUCOM) just announced that the alliance will deploy THAAD anti-missiles systems in Romania sometime this summer, while the organization also previously said that it’ll launch more patrols and military drills in the Black Sea too. Russia is very concerned about these two interconnected developments because it believes that the bloc’s belligerence in the Black Sea region is a bad sign of things to come. It’s evident that NATO is trying to increase pressure on Russia in this strategic space, which is part of the New Arms Race that it’s trying in vain to provoke Moscow to participate in. Russia is especially concerned about the THAAD element of NATO’s plans since it’s long suspected that those supposedly “defensive” systems can be clandestinely outfitted to have offensive cruise missile capabilities, which in the current context would make their deployment a disturbing development in the post-INF world after America recently decided to withdraw from that arms control agreement.
Russia’s most obvious responses would be to deploy similar weapons to Crimea and its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, but as with every defensive move that Moscow makes, these too would predictably be misportrayed by the West as “offensive” steps taken by a “resurgent” and “aggressive” Russia that’s seemingly “hellbent” on “taking over Europe”.