Russia and Turkey appear as the two main maritime stakeholders in the Black Sea region although their respective naval capabilities are rather different. Both Moscow and Ankara have plans to beef up their naval capabilities during the next decade, which stresses and confirms the increasing maritime dimension of the Black Sea. Whereas Turkish Navy appears to be in better condition, Russia's Black Sea Fleet is today in a urgent need for modernization and replacement of Soviet-era sea platforms. In 2012, the Black Sea Fleet had 12 first rank ships and 1 submarine totalizing nearly 63,000 tons, 90% of which was deployed in Crimea. Turkey had in 2012 35 first rank ships and submarines featuring more than 97,000 tons. However, the Syrian crisis has demonstrated Russia's Black Sea fleet ability to operate in the Mediterranean on a quasi-permanent basis to support Russian Navy deployment and to supply the Syrian regime with military hardware. Consequently, over the past 3 years, Russian crews have increased their experience at sea, and their morale has consequently improved. Greece, the third naval player in the Black Sea, faces financial difficulties and has to cut down military spending, modernization plans and military procurements to balance its deficit and its budget.
However, although Ankara's navy appears as the most effective of the region, it has to split between Black Sea and Mediterranean coastline, and it should be remembered that purges carried out among the top ranking military officers during the past decade has dramatically affected
the Turkish Navy. Turkish navy operates 14 classic submarines supplied by Germany (6 Type 209-1200 and 8 Type 209-1400), and part of them are deployed at the Bartin naval base on Turkey's Black Sea coast, a submarine base assigned to the Turkish Northern Sea Area Command. In July 2009, Ankara has ordered 6 more units to the German Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW), and to the British Marine Force International LLP (MFI) for the construction of Class 214 submarines to be commissioned between 2018 and 2023. The deal is estimated at €2,5 billion and the submarines will be built in Gölcük Naval Shipyard where 11 out of the 14 Turkish Type 209 subs have already been built. For the surface combatant units, Turkish Navy operates US and German platforms: 8 ex German MEKO 200 frigates, including 4 modernized units, and 8 ex-US Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates. Ankara has started to beef up its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities and initiated in 2004 the building of 12 MILGEM (for Milli Gemi, or National Ship) littoral combat corvettes with ASW and high seas patrol capabilities. The first unit, the TCG Heybeliada was built in Turkish Naval Shipyard (Istanbul) and inducted in 2011, whereas the second was commissioned in 2013. The four first units will be built by Turkish Naval Shipyard for a unit cost predicted to be less than €220 million, and the first batch of 6 MILGEM corvettes should therefore costs around €1,4 billion. As for the amphibious capabilities, Turkish Navy features 5 landing ship tanks (LST) but has also a further 49 smaller landing craft tanks (LCT) and landing craft mechanized (LCM). Yet, Ankara has planned to strongly expand its amphibious capabilities through the acquisition of one landing platform dock (LPD), 2 new LST and 8 fast new LCT. Whereas the new LCT have all been built between 2010 and 2013, the building of the LPD and the LST has not started yet. The LPD will fill a gap in Turkish Navy capabilities, and in December 2013, Ankara signed a €3 billion deal with a local shipyard company, Sedef Gemi Insaati A.S., and the Spanish company Navantia, for the project. The first unit is set to be inducted in 2021. In May 2011, Turkish Ministry of Defence and ADIK Furtrans shipyard signed a €370 million deal for the construction of the two new LSTs: the first unit is set to be commissioned in 2017
. The LSTs and LPD will enhance Turkey's ability to operate at long range and support Navy's operation in Libya type conflict.
Today, Russia's Black Sea Fleet remains a Soviet-era "green water fleet" with limited high sea capabilities. It operates 1 guided missile cruiser, the Moskva, which is also the flagship of the fleet, 1 classic submarine, 3 frigates, 7 large amphibious units, and several small antisubmarine warfare boats and small missile or artillery boats. Around 90% of the tonnage of the fleet is located in Crimean ports, mainly in Sevastopol (80%), but also in Feodossia (9%). In 2014, the overall average age of the nearly 40 combat units reaches 36 years, underscoring the deep need for replacement of the units. The Black Sea Fleet is served by 13,000 service men dispatched primarily in Crimea, but also in other naval and air bases such as Temryuk (Russia's only naval base in the Sea of Azov), Novorossiysk, and Otchamchira and Gudauta in Abkhazia. The fleet lacks air-defense and air strike capabilities, and therefore relies on land-based assets to offset this gap. Moscow has reportedly deployed S-300 air-defense systems in Crimea
as early as March 2014, soon after the beginning of military operation which ended with the annexation of the peninsula. On the other hand, Caspian Flotilla's modernization plan was initiated during the first half of the 2000s and the process is still underway. Both naval formations are linked through the Don-Volga canal which allows the quick transfer of small artillery boats and missiles corvettes from one sea to another via inland southern Russia. The Caspian Flotilla has already been reinforced with 2 new frigates (Project 11661), the Tatarstan (commissioned in 2003) and the Dagestan (inducted in 2012), and 3 corvettes (Project 21630), the Astrakhan (commissioned in 2006), the Kaspiysk (2011) and the Makhachkala (2012). In the framework of the 2011-2020 State Armament Program, the Caspian Flotilla is set to receive 4 additional missile corvettes (Project 21631) which feature Kalibr cruise missile. The two first units, the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Uglitch were commissioned in July 2014, and a third, the Velikiy Ustiug was inducted in December 2014. The next units are set to be assigned to the Black Sea Fleet. The buildup of the Black Sea Fleet is one of the highest priority of the State Armament Program and up to 18 new units should be commissioned by 2020. Moscow also plans to upgrade its military presence in the Black Sea region in setting up new military facilities in Abkhazia and South-Ossetia, and deploy additional mobile missile coastal forces. New sea platforms should consist in 6 multipurpose frigates (Project 11356M), currently under construction in Yantar Shipyard (Kaliningrad). The lead ship unit, the Admiral Grigorovicth, was floated out in mid-March 2014, and has been commissioned in March 2016. Derived from the Soviet Krivak type frigates, the new Project 11356M frigates will have anti-ship (P-800 Onyx missile), anti-surface (cruise missile Klub) and anti-air capabilities (Shtil SAM missile system). Whereas Russia has secured the engines for the first batch of three frigates, the commissioning of the next three units seems problematic since Ukraine's Zorya Machproject was the supplier. Due to the Ukrainian crisis, Russia has opted for the indigene manufacturer, Saturn, to build Russian-made engines, which will postpone the induction of the last three Project 11356 units to 2 to 3 years. Six new classic submarines (Project 0636.3, Kilo class), built in the Admiralty shipyard (Saint Petersburg), should also be commissioned. The first unit, the B-261 Novorossiysk, was launched in November 2013 and already joined the Black Sea Fleet, whereas the second unit, the B-237 Rostov-Na-Donu was inducted in the Black Sea Fleet in late 2015. The new platforms will critically enhance Russian anti-access area denial (A2/AD) capabilities in the Black Sea, and contribute to lock Russia's southern flank
. Moreover, Russia's annexation of Crimea is likely to give a substantial impetus to the development of the Black Sea Fleet, and Moscow has announced it will reconsider the overall basing system of the fleet as well as deployment plans for the new units in the short term. The critical lack of maintenance infrastructures should also be solved in the short term: Russia has reportedly designed plans to develop and refit Sebastopol's shipyards capabilities
Before Russia's absorption of Crimea, Ukraine had the most serious maritime power potential in the Black Sea. Crimea provided Kiev with the best Black Sea port, Sevastopol, and with the longest coastline and the largest continental shelf in the region. However, Ukraine's naval power has been constrained by critical funding restrictions and structural challenges. Kiev's fleet comes from the spilt of the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet concluded with Moscow in 1997 and is characterized by a very low serviceability rate. Ukrainian navy has only 1 high sea capable vessel, the frigate Hetman Sagaidachny, and its only sub, a Soviet-era Foxtrot type submarine, is not fit for battle. Ukraine however planned to modernize its fleet through the implementation of a €1,5 billion corvette construction program approved by the Ukrainian government in March 2009. According to the initial program, 10 units of the codenamed Project 58250 corvette were ordered, but due to financial difficulties, Kiev cut the program down
to 4 units in 2010. The lead ship unit, the Vladimir Veliky, is being built in Chernomorsky Shipyard (Nikolaiev) with the contribution of several western companies, including the German Rheinmetall. The delivery of the Vladimir Veliky was scheduled for 2015, with 3 other units initially planned to be commissioned by 2021. However, the ongoing crisis as well as the critical economic situation in Ukraine is likely to seriously hamper the completion of this program. Besides, the bulk of Ukraine's navy was based in Crimean naval facilities, and after its military operations in the peninsula, Russia seized 70 Ukrainian warships. Nevertheless, taking into account their poor global condition, Moscow started to return the vessels to Ukraine
, and on April 11, 2014, the first batch of Ukrainian warships was tugged to Odessa. In July 2015, Russia stated it was ready to return the last 20 vessels to Ukraine out of the 70 seized in March 2014. Due to the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine's maritime potential and naval power is dramatically questioned. However, since Crimea is not likely to return to Ukraine in the near future, Kiev should resize its fleet by decommissioning old and now unnecessary units.
Georgia does not have any more Navy since 2009, when Georgian naval forces were merged with the Coast Guard under the auspices of the Border Guard. After the 2008 Georgian-Russian conflict, Ankara transferred to Georgia 2 patrol crafts (2008-2009) in order to strengthen Tbilisi's ability to monitor its borders with Turkey. In terms of quantitative sea platforms, Georgia's capabilities are comparable to those of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Ukraine and mainly consist in second and third rank units fitted for littoral protection and coastal patrol. Although Romanian naval forces appears twice bigger than those of the previous group of countries, with 4 corvettes and a serial of patrol boats, they are nevertheless only fitted for littoral protection. Romania has furthermore no naval aviation, and cannot carry out air patrol or ASW operations, just like Georgia and Azerbaijan.