2014-04-29 In a piece published on Eurasianet.org, Joshuya Kucerna published a piece looking at the opportunities and challenges for the Russians in expanding their Black Sea Fleet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled his intent to expand the country’s Black Sea Fleet now that the previous restrictions to its size have been annulled.
On April 25, 2014, the Kremlin announced that “The Government and the Defence Ministry have been instructed to draft a development programme for the Black Sea Fleet.” This follows the annulment  of the agreements that Russia and Ukraine had signed in 2010, on account of the fact that Ukraine is no longer in charge of Crimea.
As RIA Novosti puts it : “The development of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet became an important task for the country when a number of agreements were annulled with Ukraine after the Crimean Peninsula was reunited with Russia last month.”
One key provision of those agreements was that Russia was not allowed to expand the number or capability of the ships it had in the Black Sea Fleet; instead it could only replace an old ship with a new one of the same class…..
Now that Moscow’s military presence is no longer constrained by former legal agreements with the Ukrainian side, it can fully utilise the geostrategic potential of Crimea by implementing a broad spectrum of mutually reinforcing instruments.
The Iskander surface-to-surface tactical ballistic missile, for example, with a 400 kilometre operational range, could cover the entire southern part of Ukraine – including important industrial cities like Odessa, Kryvyi Rih and Dnipropetrovsk, a large part of Moldova, the entire Romanian coastline and a significant part of the Turkish Black Sea coast.
The surface-to-surface systems can be further complemented by long-range, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles providing a full spectrum of capability to strike ground targets, interdict maritime traffic and impose no-fly zones.