The rigs became for Moscow a convenient base for working out the forms and methods of conducting electronic intelligence by the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Civilian infrastructure in the north-western part of the Black Sea is being converted into military outposts, which was made possible following an order of the Russian transport ministry on creating “safety zones” around artificial structures located on the Black Sea shelf.

The only goal is to ensure complete control over the assets seized from Ukraine using military force, Information Resistance OSINT group reported.

Surface monitoring systems were procured and installed on the drilling platforms at sea. The supplier was CJSC Morskie Kompleksy i Sistemy, which is based in St. Petersburg.

Neva-BS type monitoring systems (radars) installed on the rigs are intended for radar detection and tracking of ships and low-flying targets. It is noteworthy that, the radar receives and intercepts data through the channels of the International Automatic Identification System, which is subject to mandatory use by all countries of the International Maritime Organization.

Information is transmitted in real time to the Border Guard Department of the Federal Security Service in the occupied Crimea, and also gets into the intelligence system of the Black Sea Fleet of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation. Such placement of systems and configuration of drilling locations provide the aggressor with almost complete control over the traffic of commercial ships and warships that sail to the ports of Ukraine.

Thus, in fact, it is possible to talk about the blockade of maritime traffic using civilian infrastructure. Such a strategy is designed to weaken the effect of the presence of NATO military contingent in the Black Sea, which was a response to the occupation of Crimea and the militarization of the Black Sea region, and weaken the shipping capabilities of the Black Sea region’s countries, which is a flagrant violation of the 1982 Convention, to which Russia is a party.

Moreover, the system of hydroacoustic control of the underwater situation was put on combat duty. Such systems are deployed and operate 61 km off Cape Tarkhankut at the facilities of the Golitsyn field, 72 km off the same cape at the Shtormovoye field, 66 km north-east off Zmiyiny Island at the Odessa field. The supplier is the same.

This is military technology designed to detect military submarines.

A similar tactic of creating the conditions of “casus belli” for a possible preventive strike was tested by the Russian military command during the shelling and capture of the naval boat group in November 2018.

It is clear that the maritime infrastructure built by the Kremlin in the framework of the Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream projects will also be adapted for such combat missions. And under the guise of an artificial pretext (receiving a signal from the security system) about alleged penetration of sabotage groups, the threat of a terrorist act or piracy, the Russian Federation is implementing an offensive strategy of economic and military isolation of the region in the Black Sea. In the Azov Sea, this role has been given to the Kerch Bridge.

 In the Russian media, hysteria is regularly fomented around possible terrorist attacks on the bridge illegally constructed across the Kerch Strait and the contrived threat of “Ukrainian piracy.” It seems that Russian intelligence agencies are looking for a reason to implement the ultimate “strangulation” of international navigation to the ports of Ukraine in favor of unblocking the now-closed ports of the occupied Crimea.

So, in fact, we are dealing with the formation of a military “test site” for the development of the suppression of economic freedom of navigation and merchant shipping in general, where the key tool is the integration of civil infrastructure to the military needs of the aggressor state.

The developments around drilling rigs show the Kremlin is creating new forms of managing their military architecture, which should finally unmask real intentions of Moscow leadership behind presenting Russian naval projects as peaceful and finally push the EU and NATO countries to increase pressure on Russia to prevent the complete annexation of the Azov-Black Sea area.

UNIAN