The U.S. and Russia will not start World War III over a single drone. But the incident over the Black Sea reveals a fundamental problem in strategy.
After an American drone crashed over the Black Sea, the United States and Russia quickly made clear they did not want a direct confrontation. That is not surprising because this unspoken agreement between Moscow and Washington has been in place since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Despite tough talk and open attempts by the West to foil the Russian invasion, deterrence between the two nuclear superpowers seems to be effective. They will not start World War III over a single drone.
Claims to Airspace Control
Still, the context of the incident reveals a problem that will continue to burden relations between NATO and Russia. Regardless of whether the Russians intentionally caused the drone to crash, which is difficult to resolve independently, they are making claims to airspace sovereignty in areas around the annexed Crimean Peninsula that, according to international law, do not belong to Russia.
The Americans will not stop flying in the region, and not only for military reasons. These missions also serve as a signal that Moscow should not consider the Black Sea a Russian sea. It exemplifies how there is more at stake in the war in Ukraine than Ukraine itself. Unrestricted access to a strategically important body of water on the border between Europe and Asia is also at play.