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The Red Line of the West: Submarines to the Black Sea

At the beginning of the war, Western countries have been reluctant to send heavy and long-range weapons to Ukraine. There are still several “red lines” for warfare and supplies of military equipment, such as ships and submarines to the Black Sea which is considered unrealistic. Recently, the British confirmed that they are supplying Ukraine with long-range Storm Shadow robots that are mounted on Soviet-era Ukrainian planes and can travel over 250 kilometers, however this does not match the range of Russian robot systems.

Lieutenant Colonel Johan Huovinen believes that the US and the other Western countries are holding back politically since there is fear that Ukraine will carry out attacks on Russian territory with American-made aircraft. NATO countries such as Britain and the Netherlands have promised to provide Ukrainian pilots with training on American-made F16 planes, but when Ukraine can get access to the plane is still unclear.

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The West also appears to be loosening boundaries when it comes long-range weapon systems. This summer, the Americans sent Himars to Ukraine – a rocket-propelled artillery system that has proven crucial to Ukrainian successes on the battlefield. But they have so far refused to provide ammunition with a range of more than about 80 kilometers.

Russia has constantly tried to set limits on the military support to Ukraine. Nuclear weapons are being waved more and more frequently, and recently Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said that Western countries run “colossal risks” if they supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. But so far there have been empty threats.

A sharp red line is ships and submarines that could be used in the Black Sea where Russia has a naval base on the occupied Crimean peninsula. It is feared that Russia would refuse a grain agreement if this were allowed. It cannot be ruled out that there are Russian red lines that the West is not aware of, such as using long-range weapons systems or knocking out key Russian capabilities.

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