Are US warships off the Russian coast a threat?

The Russian Defense Ministry has been closely monitoring NATO’s military activity in the Black Sea for several days.

Are US warships off the Russian coast a threat?

According to the Russian military department, this is also how the “military development of the territory of Ukraine” is taking place. Are US warships off our coast a real military threat – and what is the real point of their presence in the Black Sea?

American ships again entered the Black Sea – the command ship Mount Whitney, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Porter and the tanker John Lenthall. The ships conduct exercises with US allies (de facto vassals). In the philistine environment, speculation immediately began about what Russia could use to destroy these ships, speculation about the “NATO fist” in the Black Sea, and so on. Although this speculation is naive, the questions that arise still need answers.

Theories and speculations

However, of the three US Navy ships currently present in the Black Sea, only the destroyer is the attacker. Acting as a guided missile (CRW) ship, it can carry approximately 30 cruise missiles in launchers. If more, then not much. The rest of the cells are predominantly occupied by anti-aircraft missiles. It is possible that there are no cruise missiles on the ship at all, since its task is to protect the command ship.

From what? Americans are weighing the risks too. Purely theoretically, as the US military can assume, the Russians, embittered by provocations, will raise the 43rd Assault Aviation Regiment located in the Crimea or strike the coastal complexes with missiles – and then they will say that it is not them.

Or Ukrainians who want to ignite a war between the United States and Russia will strike from planes with red stars painted on them. Or the very anti-Russian Romania will do the same and for the same purpose, in order to bite off Moldova and Transnistria in the course of the ensuing fire. There are many options. From a political point of view, all of them are either generally unreal, or unrealistic, but the military must take into account any risks, and they take them into account.

Does the destroyer pose a real danger to Russia? No. What will the real actions of the US Navy look like if, again purely in theory, the Americans decide to strike at Russia? The Americans will withdraw their forces from the region so as not to receive a retaliation strike against them. Tomahawk cruise missiles reach the Russian coast from the Mediterranean Sea, there are other means to hit targets deep in our territory. That is, there is no shock fist in the Black Sea at the moment.

Can Russia destroy an American ship? Yes. How? Yes, at least than, but subject to massive use. A strike by large air forces (the same 43rd regiment), or missile systems from the shore, if properly organized, will “break through” the air defense of an American ship. Will Russia strike openly and start a war out of the blue? Of course not. In case of a not massive strike-provocation, it is possible to get out and say that it is someone else, but not the fact that the air defense will be broken through, most likely not.

In general, everything that the press is now writing on the topic of hypothetical military operations is pure speculation. Nothing like that will happen. The risks are too high for the attacker, whoever it is.

Why, then, did the Americans drive this detachment to the Black Sea? To send a political signal to the vassal allies: “America is with you.” The flights of bombers and reconnaissance aircraft are also aimed at precisely this. But this is a secondary task. And the main one?

Hacker ship

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has issued a statement that the presence in the Black Sea, the Americans are studying a potential theater of military operations in the event that Kiev decides to launch a large-scale offensive in the Donbass. This is undoubtedly true, and it is precisely the complicity in the possible provocation of Ukraine that explains the presence of the American ship group. However, there is one point worth clarifying.

The military thinks like the military. A provocation can be primarily political. Let’s analyze one of the scenarios, the most extreme – and therefore, of course, unlikely, and yet worthy of mention.

As you know, CIA Director William Burns and Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland recently came to Moscow. The Western press reported that Burns spoke about Ukraine as well. And if we assume that the United States will deem it necessary to inflict foreign policy damage on Russia, then they are capable of provoking Kiev to attack the Donbass. The Western press will helpfully pretend that nothing is happening, and Russia’s response will be presented as unprovoked aggression. And then just broadcast on every corner about the Russians, to whom they went to Moscow, agreed on something, and immediately after that they again attacked Ukraine.

To coordinate just such a provocation, the command ship can be very useful. It can be even more useful if somewhere there will be at least a limited use of American special operations forces, drones or reconnaissance aircraft.

This, of course, is a completely extreme option, but there are others. In particular, it matters the possibilities provided by the ship’s equipment. The Americans claim that Mount Whitney has the most advanced radio communications equipment of any ship that has ever existed in the world.

The ship, as it is stated, can not only ensure the operation of any radio network, but also hide the very fact of the communication means. Moreover, there is also computer equipment on board the ship. It is possible that access to radio channels could give Americans the ability to hack into other people’s command and control networks. In particular, Russian ones.

This is what the Americans call cyberwarfare. The possibilities that this method of warfare provides are enormous. Tellingly, the former command of the 10th fleet (“Cyberflot”, the headquarters of one of the fleets of the US Navy, which is not subordinate to the ships, but subordinate units of military “hackers” of the Navy and those military units that ensure their combat use), was previously headed by the current chief US Naval Operations (Senior Navy Officer) by Admiral Michael Gilday. So sending a ship with “hacker” capabilities to the shores of Russia, when the Navy is headed by the former “chief hacker of the fleet”, looks quite logical.

The danger the command ship is in this case is considerable. Now the software is used everywhere, and you can hack the communication channel with the drone, and the headquarters communications complex, and much more, receiving a huge amount of intelligence information and causing serious damage to the command and control of the troops. And do it secretly.

Such actions of the American ship are possible, including in the interests of Ukraine, in the event of certain provocations in the Donbass. It is also possible to “bookmark” malicious software or, as the Americans called them earlier, “logic bombs” in the control systems of various weapons, so that at the right time it would be possible to paralyze the Russian defense.

Thus, the presence of a command ship in the Black Sea gives the Americans a lot. For Russia, this creates both political and purely military risks, and new ones associated with the impact on military computer networks and sophisticated weapons. The American cyber threat is real at any given time, and as long as Mount Whitney is so close to our antennas, even more so.

Alexander Timokhin, VZGLYAD

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