USA’s New Naval Power Strategy and the Black Sea

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The United States of America (USA) developed the “A Cooperative Strategy of 21st Century Sea-power(CS-21)” in 2007 to increase its effectiveness in the seas and to surround its old rival Russia with China, which emerged as a power that was difficult to prevent. On March 13, 2015, it revised this strategy as a result of new threat perceptions and developments. Five main objectives stand out in this strategy. Within the scope of these objectives, the following determinations can be made:

  1. The USA, which wants to prove that it is the only dominant power in the world’s seas by giving a strong message to both the outside world and its own public, tries to reveal that it challenged its rivals in the seas.
  2. The Washington administration gives the message of acting together to allied and friendly countries.
  3. The USA identifies China as the primary threat and seeks to limit China.
  4. The Washington administration has unveiled tactical, strategic, and technological naval doctrines with including cyber warfare.
  5. The USA has declared that it will take special care of the Arctic Ocean.

It should be noted that; It is not the first time that the US has identified an enemy, targeted it, and determined the actors with which it will cooperate against the specified enemy in this context. As a matter of fact, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the USA’s President George W. Bush also implemented a similar policy.

The USA’s orientation to such a doctrine can be compared to the statements made by the British officials who wanted to resist the rising German naval power on the eve of the First and Second World Wars, and the solicited strategies intended to be implemented in this period. Because the US wants to prevent China’s rising commercial and military power and while doing so, to limit the actors that can establish an alliance with Beijing with including Russia. Washington’s aim in this policy is to maintain its position as the only global hegemonic power.

In short, the US shows that if needed anywhere in the world, due to its naval power, it has the military sources and nuclear capability to keep up with any problem.

On the other hand, the statements made by the period’s the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the German President Frank Walter Steinmeier at the Munich Security Conference held in February 2020 revealed that Transatlantic relations are under military & commercial threat and there are important differences of opinion among the allies.

It was in this environment that Pompeo came up with the idea of the “Three Seas Strategy”. What Pompeo meant by three seas were the Baltic Sea, the Adriatic Sea, and the Black Sea. In this context, the aforementioned strategy aims to limit Russia in its close vicinity and to prevent China from reaching the European market both from the sea and the land within the scope of the “Belt-Road Project”. However, here are a few important issues for Turkey. At this point, potential developments in the region for Turkey can be expressed in the first degree can create security problems. So, Turkey attaches importance to the security of the Black Sea. Besides, in the opinion of the US, China and Russia, as well as Turkey, is also perceived as an actor to be considered should not be ignored.

On the other hand, German President Steinmeier introduced the concept of “Westlessness” while making reproach to the USA and further consolidating its leadership within the EU to call a return to European values. Therefore, although the USA declares such doctrines of the sea, it is not strong enough to do whatever it wants both within the EU and in the Black Sea region. Because EU member actors whose economies are much better than other members such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, led by Germany are uncomfortable with the US position on the international system.

Moreover, Germany and other EU countries import many raw materials, especially natural gas and oil, from Russia. Furthermore, China also has huge trade agreements with many European states, especially with France. For instance, the rental of Piraeus Port in Greece by the Chinese made Washington administration uneasy. On the other hand, the USA tries to use the “Turkish paranoia” which has been artificially pumped to the Greek public since the years it was founded in order to “kill two birds with one stone”. In this sense, the US has acquired 20 units of military bases in Greece via touching Turkey’s borders and the nerve ends by making some moves. However, although the Athens administration was satisfied with this situation in the short term, it can be predicted that Greece will turn into a modern colonial country in the medium and long term.

Moreover, Britain, the first ally of the USA, also has important relations with China and Russia. According to the data of the UK Revenue and Customs Administration, the bilateral trade volume between Russia and the UK is in the top twenty in the world import-export rankings.

While most of the EU countries are heavily dependent on Russia in terms of energy and raw materials, the USA wants to break this supply chain. However, it is very difficult for the Washington administration to achieve this goal. In this regard, the first problem of the USA is that China is rising at an unpredictable speed. That is why despite his advanced age and the Covid-19 outbreak, Biden had his first official face-to-face meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

In the statement made by the White House after the aforementioned meeting, it was stated that the Washington administration was determined to defend Japan with “nuclear weapons”, which is identified as an ally within the framework of the Mutual Security and Cooperation Agreement of 1960. In essence, the Biden administration is trying to ossify its alliance in the Pacific against China and North Korea. However, ironically, the US was the first country in the world to drop nuclear bombs, and the country that was targeted in the bombardment was Japan.

Other issues discussed by Biden and Suga were the prevention of Chinese expansion in the South China Sea and the situation of Taiwan. The USA is trying to re-define and mobilize the ranks and alliance both in the Atlantic axis and in the Pacific. While the USA’s job in the Pacific is very difficult, things do not go as it wants in Europe, which is seen as an “ally backyard” during the Cold War. Whereas the relations with Turkey that is NATO’s currently the second-largest military force, are not in the normal position and reasonable level. Because Washington administration is giving open support to the PYD-YPG which is a terrorist organization that is the extension of the PKK terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria, and situated to oppose Turkey in S-400, Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean, Libya, and many other subjects.

The tension between Ukraine and Russia, which is a current development, is closely related to the Turkish Straits and the Black Sea. Therefore, it is also a sensitive issue concerning Turkey’s security. Because throughout history, it has been seen that the peace and stability in the Black Sea contributed to Turkey’s security and wellbeing, and in the opposite situation Turkey has been adversely affected by the process there. The most important point to be emphasized at this point is that the Black Sea is the only sea where the navies of NATO and other Western elements cannot act as they wanted.

On the occasion of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, the US and its allies intend to use Moscow’s aggressive and unfair attitudes as an excuse to push Russia into an even more aggressive attitude over the Black Sea. However, as it should be remembered, in the Russia-Georgia conflict in South Ossetia in 2008, the USA and its allies did not keep their promises to Georgia.

On the other hand, it can be said that the USA, which wants to highlight the historical and geographical features of Crimea, wants to create a Turkish-Russian disagreement and even a conflict in the region. Here there is a great and important diplomatic mission given to Turkey. Because Ankara has the capacity to prevent a regional war by mediating between Kyiv and Moscow. The situation that is hampering Turkey is the Kyiv administration’s not stepping back due to the given support of the West. Furthermore, Turkey wishes to maintain positive relations with Ukraine and also does not want Ukraine to disturb the continued bumpy commercial and military relations with Russia in recent years. At this point, considering the fact that the membership process with NATO has not started, it can be predicted that the Kyiv administration will evaluate Russia’s military capacity rationally.

In epitome, Ukraine and Russia, which are of the same nation and religion and known as “Eastern Slavs” in history, have become the center of the power struggle between the West and Russia. Due to Ukraine being the host of fertile lands and iron & coal mines, the West’s interest in this country is increasing day by day. There is also a useful situation in the region for the West. Therefore, even though they come from the same root, Kyiv became hostile to Moscow as a result of the bloody conflicts and exiles in the 19th century and the Second World War.

Eventually, the opening of the Eastern Front of the First World War, as it is known, started due to the navies of the states that are not riparian with the Black Sea. Therefore, every country needs to consider and analyze events in the light of historical and international truths.

Doç. Dr. Ergenekon SAVRUN
Ergenekon SAVRUN: Ufuk Üniversitesi Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi ile Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümünde Doç. Dr. Öğr. Üyesidir. Ayrıca (Fransa) Bordo-Lyon, İspanya Cordoba, Portekiz Lizbon ve (İngiltere) Canterbury’de misafir Prof. olarak Uluslararası İlişkiler ve Siyaset Bilimi alanlarında dersler vermiştir. Çalışma alanları ise Tarih, Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkilerdir. Lisans ve Yüksek Lisans eğitimini (KKTC) Girne Amerikan Üniversitesi İngilizce Halkla İlişkiler ve İngilizce Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümlerinde tamamlamıştır. Doktorasını ise Tarih üzerine İzmir Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesinde tamamlamıştır. Ergenekon SAVRUN’un 3 adet kitabı bulunmaktadır. Kitapların adları ise: Türkiye ve İngiltere’nin Karşılaştırmalı Kıbrıs Politikaları, Ön Asya’nın Anahtarı Kıbrıs, Türk Siyasi Tarihinde Önemli Dönüm Noktaları. Ayrıca13 kitap bölümü, 30’dan fazla makale ve birçok uluslararası ve yerel konferans ve seminerler vermiştir.