Russia’s annexation of Crimea secured the future of its Black Sea Fleet, enabling Moscow to pump money into bolstering its capabilities while expanding its reach well into the Mediterranean Sea.

Eighteen months ago, this hardly could have been possible. Under a highly restrictive basing arrangement with Kiev, the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s size was limited, and the addition of new ships was prohibited. The fleet was destined to rot.

“The Black Sea Fleet by 2010 had not been replenished with new warships for 25 years, and in fact [the fleet] had turned into a bunch of museum exhibits,” said Mikhail Barabanov, a Russian naval expert at the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST). […]