Defense Horizons: Responding to Russia after the NATO Summit: Unmanned Aerial Systems Overmatch in the Black Sea [open pdf - 583KB]
"Since the earliest days of the Crimean crisis, Russian support of 'separatists' within Ukraine has ranged from plainclothes thugs to more traditional uniformed troops, munitions, and other forms of aid. Some of the individuals involved may have had links to the Russian military or its intelligence community. While much of the aid comes through the porous border between Russia and Ukraine, Russia also leverages the opportunity to use Black Sea smugglers as a way to supply ongoing rebellions or to initiate new revolts. Two Black Sea--bordering regions, Odessa and Transnistria, are home to active pro-Russian movements that could potentially evolve into a pro-Russian state. Worries of Russia supplying separatists via illicit movements on the Black Sea and generally advancing its Novorossyia claims should be matched to a general concern over Black Sea smuggling rings, which traffic humans, weapons, and nuclear materials into Europe via Odessa's port. To solve these problems, American unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) offer an effective intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) solution. Assets could conduct maritime ISR of the Crimean Peninsula, Russian borders, main smuggling corridors, and littoral regions over international waters. Based on the ISR accumulation, such assets could provide intelligence on Russia-based aggression while aiding Black Sea Allies to apprehend criminals. […] Given the increasing concern over the strategic importance--and therefore vulnerability--of the areas bordering the Black Sea, such as Odessa, Transnistria, and the Danube Delta, this asymmetric response from the United States not only would add a less-escalatory pressure on Russian interests in the area but also could alleviate some the concerns of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members in the area."
DH No. 79; Defense Horizons No. 79
National Defense University Press: http://ndupress.ndu.edu/