Thursday, 1st June 2023
Breaking News:

Russo-American confrontation in the Black Sea

By Editorial Board
29 March 2023   |   4:15 am
The recent aerial incident in the Black Sea involving a U.S. drone and two Russian Sukhoi-27 fighter jets calls for critical reflections. Unknown to the larger global audience, the incident inclined the world towards a nuclear catastrophe..

The recent aerial incident in the Black Sea involving a U.S. drone and two Russian Sukhoi-27 fighter jets calls for critical reflections. Unknown to the larger global audience, the incident inclined the world towards a nuclear catastrophe as the actors involved are the world’s most nuclear-armed nations. An open-armed confrontation could spell doom for the world as we know it.

Precisely on March 14, a U.S. drone on a reconnaissance mission near the Crimea coastline in the Black Sea where the Russians have established a restricted zone crashed into the deep waters of the sea resulting in accusations and counter-accusations regarding the incident. The United States alleged that two Russian Sukhoi-27 jets intercepted an MQ-9 on a reconnaissance mission and dropped fuel on it several times, and one of the fighter planes hit the drone’s propeller, thereby causing it to crash.

However, the Russian version controverted the U.S. position. The Russians alleged that the crash was due to a “sharp manoeuvre” performed by the drone and rebutted the point made about damage to any of its jets. It also stressed that the jet fighters that accompanied the drone did not use their weapons, nor did they come into contact with the drone in ways harmful even though the drone was flown with its communication transponders turned off.

It is important to note that both countries enter into communication with each resulting in mutual recriminations with the objective of de-escalation of the confrontation. As Lloyd Austin, U.S. Secretary of Defence has noted, “The focus was made on an exchange of opinions about the causes and consequences of the incident with the U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle that crashed into the Black Sea on March 14 of this year.” Secretary Austin underlined the point that the incident followed a pattern of what he called unsafe actions by the Russians. Sergey Shoigu, Russian Defence Chief, told Austin that the drone incident occurred due to the failure of the U.S. to respect flight restrictions and that flights by U.S. drones near the Crimean coastline were provocative, creating conditions for the situation to escalate. He further said that Russia would continue to respond proportionately to all provocations near its border that are similar to U.S. drone flights near its border.

It will be recalled that relations between Russia and the U.S. took a deep following Russian accusation of the U.S. of inspiring a coup d’état against the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych in the so-called Maidan revolution. This eastward push by the Americans and her NATO allies prompted the Russian annexation of Crimean and civil conflict in Ukraine underlined by the quest for autonomy by the Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians. However, as a result of the failure of the Minsk agreement, which sought to resolve the crisis to guarantee autonomy to the Donbas region within a United Ukraine, the Russian government then embarked on a Special Military Operation that commenced in February last year. With a plethora of sanctions against Russia, U.S. relations with the latter have been at their lowest ebb. Above all, the U.S. is leading a pack of EU and NATO countries to arm Ukraine against Russia. It is in this context that the statement of the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, to the extent that the U.S. warplanes and ships that were being used to collect information to enable Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia “have no business near the borders of Russia.”

Without a doubt, U.S. reconnaissance in the Black Seas avails it a quantum of real-time intelligence on Russia’s military operations in Ukraine that is readily available to Kyiv to plan its defence of critical national infrastructure and military operations.  Therefore, we concur with the central element of the communication between the two countries to the effect that major nuclear powers need to keep their communication channels open to discuss crises and avert accidents and deliberate actions that may bring the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Indeed, observers worry that the incident, whether premeditated or not, could create a global crisis. The incident compounds the existing danger of “false flag” operations in the Russo-Ukrainian Crisis that may quickly unravel and aggravate the international situation. Also, an immediate repercussion of a broadened crisis in the Black Seas will hamper the floundering grain deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations that allows Ukraine, one of the world’s largest exporters of grain, to export for the stability of the global market.

While the crisis in Ukraine triggers much of the mutual and counterproductive provocation by the two superpowers, a peaceful resolution of the conflicts is to be proffered than the current drumbeat of war proliferating in the Western media. As many observers have agreed, nuclear war is an ill-wind that will blow no one good. The path of peace should be followed by these great powers in the international space.