Russia-Ukraine conflict may continue to escalate
Although the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been far from a non-violent confrontation, the battles and military actions undertaken so far have taken place almost exclusively around border regions. However, the potential militarization of the Crimean peninsula by Russia may expand the simmering conflict, and both NATO and the U.S. are concerned about escalation, according to Voice of America. The peninsula was part of the Ukrainian territory that broke away from Russia in 2014, but pro-Russian separatists and the Russian government wrestled control of the area away from Ukrainian forces.
Missiles and planes
"We are very concerned with the militarization of Crimea," Philip Breedlove, the top U.S. general in Europe and NATO's supreme allied commander on the continent, told Voice of America. "We are concerned that the capabilities in Crimea that are being installed will bring an effect on almost the entire Black Sea."
Following a meeting with top Ukrainian officials, Breedlove pointed to a few specific concerns in the general military buildup happening on the peninsula. There has been an increase in Russian military flights crossing above NATO countries, as well as the positioning of surface-to-air and cruise missiles by Russia to threaten the area around the Black Sea.
Hazards to civilian and commercial aircraft
The repeated flights of Russian planes above NATO member countries has put those nations on high alert at times, and aircraft have been sent out from the United Kingdom in response. The other concern noted by Voice of America was the allegation that Russian planes fly with their transponders off. This approach, if true, means that commercial and civilian aircraft, including those used for corporate travel, may be at risk when traveling near the Black Sea. Reuters highlighted the highly unusual move of NATO arming non-member nations, specifically Ukraine, as a response to the increase in Russian actions during the past few months.
Concerns for multinational businesses
The situation around the Black Sea certainly isn't new, but as it changes and develops, companies with interests in the area have to remain aware. The potential threat of Russian military planes flying without transponders is a dangerous one for business with employees traveling in the area, although the continued increase in military presence on both sides will likely lead to more problems in the future.
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