Ukraine and Russia Take Their Conflict to the Sea

Sep 24, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

Ukrainian sailors rehearse for a military parade in Kiev during August 2017.

Ukrainian sailors take part in military parade rehearsal in the center of Kiev on Aug. 22, 2017. Ukraine will mark the 26th anniversary of its Independence on Aug. 24, 2017.



  • As the standoff between Ukraine and Russia intensifies in eastern Ukraine, the Sea of Azov will become a new area of contention.
  • Both Ukraine and Russia will increase their military presence in the sea, and Kiev has already announced plans for a new naval base there before the end of the year.
  • The military buildup could lead to growing economic disruption of shipping in and out of the sea.
  • Russia is stronger than Ukraine on the sea, but robust U.S. support for Kiev could alter the situation in the area.

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has so far been restricted to ground battles over control of eastern Ukraine. Recent developments, however, suggest that the war -- now in its fifth year -- could soon spread to the sea. On Sept. 16, the Ukrainian government announced plans to create a naval base in the Sea of Azov before the end of the year, four days before President Petro Poroshenko confirmed Kiev's intentions in a speech to parliament. The statements come amid military buildups by both Ukraine and Russia in the Sea of Azov, which have been provoked in part by Moscow's construction of a bridge between Crimea and mainland Russia. The bridge has allowed the latter to harass Ukrainian vessels as part of larger restrictions on its shipping. As a result of the growing tensions, a flare-up is now entirely possible on the Sea of Azov, especially if the United...

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