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A nation must think before it acts.
On May 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated the Kerch Strait bridge, linking the Crimean Peninsula to the Russian mainland, seven months ahead of schedule. In doing so, he signaled Russia’s determination to reshape the geopolitical and geo-economic balance of the Black Sea region, despiteWestern sanctions. Although Moscow is in no position to dominate the Baltic Sea, its efforts to turn the Black Sea into a mare nostrum are bearing fruit. Over the past several years, the Kremlin has mastered the Baltic feint: By engaging in aerial and maritime provocations in a region highly monitored by the West, Russia is able to entrench its position in the Black Sea without notice. While most U.S. strategists worry about the Suwalki Gap on the Polish-Lithuanian border as a potential Russian invasion route into Central Europe, it is Russia’s buildup in the Black Sea that should concern policymakers.