Eyeing the current conflict in Ukraine, a national defense analyst says there's no question Vladimir Putin wants to control the Black Sea.
Ukraine's president is begging NATO to dispatch ships to the area after a confrontation in which the Russian coast guard fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels and their crews that sought to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov.
The vessels were attempting to pass through the Kerch Strait, which is located between Russia's mainland and the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO.
Bob Maginnis, senior fellow for national security at the Family Research Council, says there is no question Putin wants control of the Black Sea.
"And by Ukraine calling for NATO, and really the U.S. Sixth Fleet, to send more vessels into the Black Sea," says Maginnis, "is a confrontation that obviously Putin does not want because he wants to dominate the Black Sea."
Concerned about an outright invasion by Russia, Ukrainian reserve units have been called up while the president, Petro Poroshenko, declared 30 days of marshal law that will bar Russian males from entering the country.
Maginnis says the question is whether the U.S. plans to bolster Ukraine's navy, which is a mere 66 vessels with about 1,100 personnel. Russia has approximately 2,800 vessels and 25,000 personnel in the area.
"So there's no match there," he observes, "and so giving Ukraine the necessary arms might be an alternative."