ANALYSIS – As we first reported in our April 15 PDB, after being threatened by Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the Biden administration has embarrassingly canceled the planned deployment of two U.S. warships to the Black Sea near Ukraine. This sends a horrible signal of weakness amid Russia’s massive military buildup and blustering on Ukraine’s border, and diminishes the impact of the Russia sanctions announced Thursday.
I noted on April 13 that Russia called the United States an adversary and told U.S. warships to stay well away from Crimea “for their own good,” calling their deployment in the Black Sea a provocation. And it appears, despite his strong anti-Russia rhetoric and bombast, President Biden blinked.
On that same day, in a rare, coordinated warning, Chinese communist leaders also warned Biden to stay away from Taiwan.
According to Politico, the Pentagon yesterday scrapped the “Black Sea transit by two Navy destroyers this week due to concerns about escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the plans.” The ships, the USS Donald Cook and the USS Roosevelt, are in the Mediterranean Sea conducting maritime security operations.
Politico added that: “Earlier this month, the Navy notified Turkey, which manages traffic through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits leading to the Black Sea under the 1936 Montreux Convention, that they were tentatively planning a routine transit by the two destroyers, according to a U.S. defense official.”
That two destroyer transit is now off.
While the Pentagon and White House try to spin the decision as routine, or not significant, or trying to avoid provocation, Putin can only see this dramatic reversal as cowardice. Especially as it comes directly on the heels of Putin’s warning to Biden, just three days ago.
China too will see this Biden reversal as a further sign of lack of resolve in relation to their own coordinated threats and warning about Taiwan.
Meanwhile, as a further show of defiance and contempt from Putin, Russia announced it would be closing part of the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait for foreign warships until October, under the pretense of conducting military exercises.
A Ukrainian spokesperson said Russia’s actions violate international law and creates a serious danger of Russia moving to block access to the Black Sea and link its mainland to Crimea. Sadly, Biden’s weakness in the Black Sea now, will only provoke more Russian, as well as Chinese aggression. ADN