MADRID — Are we heading for a kind of new Cold War in the Mediterranean and Black Sseas? Russia's military intervention of Russia in Syria has suggested revealed this scenario, along with its growing as real growing with a major display presence of its warships and submarines around the Mediterranean, in the Black Sea and at the Syrian port of Latakia (28 miles from Turkish border) — a main "homeport" of the Russian Navy.

This geostrategic situation is evolving while when -what a coincidence- NATO is developing its biggest, and most ambitious exercise in more than a decade with about 36,000 troops, more than 140 aircraft and 60 ships from over 30 nations. In addition to , including , along with NATO allies, participants include Australia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Macedonia, Sweden — and Ukraine.

The live exercise Trident Juncture 2015 exercise was opened Oct. 19 last Monday in Trapani Air Base, Sicily, and will be hosted by Italy, Spain and Portugal until Nov. 6.

"We are very concerned about the Russian military build-up," NATO's Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow told reporters. during the opening ceremony.  [...]  "The increasing concentration of forces in Kaliningrad, the Black Sea and, now, in the eastern Mediterranean does pose some additional challenges."

At the opening ceremony, NATO showed off also its airstrike power with Typhoon, F-18, F-16, Tornado and AMX aircraft, as well asor drone MQ-9 Reaper drones.

But two other remarkable events, linked to the Mediterranean scenario, also occurred took place also last week. 

On Oct. 20, the Tuesday, US Navy announced the destroyer Ross successfully intercepted a ballistic missile in the North Atlantic Ocean as part of an integrated air- and missile-defense demonstration with eight other nations. The destroyer is based on the Spanish Navy Base of Rota, near the Mediterranean.

"This is the first time a Standard Missile-3 Block IA guided interceptor was fired on a non-US range and the first intercept of a ballistic missile threat in the European theater," the US Navy confirmed only two weeks after four Russian Navy warships launched a total of 26 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea to supposed targets in Syria. 

"That launching was a surprising Russian show of force that could have aftermaths also in the Mediterranean Sea where, don't forget it, four US Navy guided missile destroyers are based nearby, in Rota," a top military official told Defense News. (Spain). "Four destroyers equipped with the Aegis combat system."

Other nations like Spain and the Netherlands took part in the missile-defense demonstration. Thanks to a provisional upgrade implemented in their combat systems, two Spanish and Dutch frigates were able to detect, track and transmit provide transmissions of ballistic missile defense cues to a US Navy ship. took part in this multinational exercise by tracking.

Second remarkable event of the week, Also on Oct. 20, the Tuesday:  destroyer Porter destroyer arrived in Batumi, Georgia, a country that fought which suffered a war against Russian forces in 2008 and is attempting to join dealing to joing NATO. in a future. USS Porter is also one of the four destroyers based in Rota alongside USS Ross, Donald Cook and Carney.

"Porter's operations in the Black Sea are meant to enhance maritime security and stability, readiness, and naval capability with our allies and partners," a US Navy release said.

Is NATO facing a new Cold War scenario?

"We don't believe Russia wants a military conflict with NATO, but yes, we have ongoing activities at other low levels like in Cold War times: management of information, cyber attacks, military spying," a NATO official told Defense News.

"However, there are two essential differences now," the official said. "There is not an existential threat in Europe, and it is now a more regional issue than a fight between two superpowers. This concern has increased with the Russian military intervention in Syria and the threat in Turkey."

The Black Sea, which borders lies between Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, all NATO countries, and also Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, appears to be at this point a key factor in this new NATO-Russia Southern hot scenario.

In Trapani, a senior official who declined to be identified told alerted Reuters about that Russia is using the Syrian war as a pretext to increase its presence of Russia in the Mediterranean Sea. 

"We have to take into account that Russia is going to have a much more substantial presence with the ability to impede our freedom of maneuver and our freedom of navigation," the official said.

The Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, has become "an armed fortress," the official said.

Precisely, The continuous presence of an Aegis destroyer in the Black Sea is one of the strategies the US is studying to replace its Patriot missiles, used to protect Turkey, that are being withdrawn. Also with the Spanish Patriot battery set in Adana.

Trident Juncture 2015 has begun, but no NATO official has publicly claimed already started. However nobody recognizes publicly Russia is a problem in the southern flank. Ambassador Vershbow denied the exercise is aimed at a in Trapani this is an exercise to face the Russian threat.

"Indeed, it is inspired by African countries," he said.

The exercise Actually it will simulates a conflict in an area of the Horn of Africa and Sudan, with Kamon, Lakuta and Tytan as imaginary countries. And, of course, NATO will act fastly in Africa, the other hot border... near the next Cold War?


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