The Ukraine war has posed a number of serious risks to the security of the Black Sea region. Of particular concern is the heightened risk of dangerous manoeuvring on the Black Sea by the warring parties. Such manoeuvring can easily lead to a miscalculation or misunderstanding, with the potential for a dangerous and destabilizing escalation of military tensions.
The most serious risk of dangerous manoeuvring on the Black Sea has been the possibility of an accidental confrontation between the militaries of Ukraine and Russia. In recent years, there have been a number of close encounters between Ukrainian and Russian military forces in the area. These have included multiple violations of the Ukraine-Russia maritime border and a series of provocative flights by Russian military aircraft in the region.
In response to the increased risk of dangerous manoeuvring on the Black Sea, Ukraine and its allies have implemented a number of measures to increase the transparency of military operations in the region. These include the adoption of a Regional Maritime Security Initiative, the establishment of a Joint Maritime Command Centre and the adoption of a set of norms to guide the conduct of military exercises in the area.
At the same time, the risk of dangerous manoeuvring on the Black Sea has been further heightened by the presence of a large number of naval vessels operated by both Ukraine and Russia in the region. This has created a particularly tense situation, as both sides are jockeying for position in the waters and in the air.
The risks posed by dangerous manoeuvring on the Black Sea can only be reduced if Ukraine and Russia can agree to a set of rules and norms that should govern their respective military operations in the region. This must include a commitment to mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and a commitment to de-escalation should any dangerous incidents occur. In the absence of such an agreement, the risk of dangerous manoeuvring on the Black Sea will remain high.