NATO to Increase Air Patrols in Black Sea with Eye on Russia

by | Jul 26, 2023

NATO to Increase Air Patrols in Black Sea with Eye on Russia

by | Jul 26, 2023

us air force mq 9 camera footage russian su 27 black sea intercept screenshot

The North Atlantic alliance will step up its aerial surveillance of Russian activity in the Black Sea as tensions in the region rise. Moscow recently withdrew from the Black Sea grain export agreement and warned it would consider civilian ships potentially carrying military supplies to Kiev. 

On Tuesday, at a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, alliance head Jens Stoltenberg announced the increase in Black Sea operations. “Russia’s actions also pose substantial risks to the stability of the Black Sea region, which is of strategic importance to NATO,” he said. “Allies are stepping up support to Ukraine and increasing our vigilance. We remain ready to defend every inch of Allied territory from any aggression.”

In a press release, NATO explained the increased “vigilance” will come in the form of spy plane and drone flights. “NATO and Allies are stepping up surveillance and reconnaissance in the Black Sea region, including with maritime patrol aircraft and drones,” the statement said. 

Stoltenberg went on to attack the Kremlin for withdrawing from the grain agreement. “Russia bears full responsibility for its dangerous and escalatory actions in the Black Sea region.” He continued, “Russia must stop weaponising hunger, and threatening the world’s most vulnerable people with food instability.”

On July 17, Moscow announced that it would suspend its participation in the Black Sea grain export agreement. The Kremlin maintains that not enough was being done to allow Russia to export its agricultural products that were choked by Western sanctions. Moscow says it will return to the deal if it is fully implemented. 

Additionally, the Kremlin has complained that most exports are going to Europe and China, while the agreement aimed to ensure countries in Africa had access to food. According to the World Food Program, only 12% of the exports have gone to African nations. Moscow says it will provide Africa with food aid. 

After Russia withdrew from the deal, the Defense Ministry issued a warning to ships operating in the Black Sea. “Given that the Black Sea initiative has come to an end and the maritime humanitarian corridor has been terminated, all ships going across the Black Sea to Ukrainian ports will be considered potential carriers of military-purpose cargoes,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The increase in NATO military aircraft above the Black Sea could lead to confrontations with Russian aircraft. In March, a Russian fighter jet downed an American drone by dumping fuel on the unmanned aircraft. Over the weekend, the White House claims a Russian jet hit the propeller of an American drone with a flare in Syria. An American official said a Russian pilot repeated the maneuver on Wednesday. The Kremlin says the drone nearly caused a midair collision with the fighter jet. 

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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