In CNN's April 5 2022 'The Russians are gone': What this image says about Russia's strategy after about 03;26 US Army Maj. Gen. (ret) Paul Eaton says (my best-effort transcription, there are no closed-captions available at this time):

Eaton: We need to prioritize the effort we have. Odessa needs to be our main effort, if we loose Odessa, that is a significant blow economically to the Ukrainian people, and we've got to deny that.

We need to see more activity from NATO's naval forces...

CNN: Out here in the Black Sea? NATO forces out in the Black Sea?

Eaton: Absolutely. Absolutely. And a clear threat to Mr. Putin there; open up something else for him to consider in Kaliningrad - outside the port city of Kaliningrad where he keeps his Baltic Fleet. A little bit more aggressive...

A lot of us though we need to present multiple problems to President Putin, but the first is the Black Sea, where I have seen reports that the Russians are laying mines outside of Bulgaria, and this is opening up an opportunity to say "Look, you're attacking NATO, and we are moving NATO forces - naval forces, and we're going to consider our options to attack."

Question: How does Eaton get from (the possibility of) Russian mines in the Black Sea outside of Bulgaria to moving in NATO naval forces to "you're attacking NATO" and subsequently NATO's "options to attack"?

Presumably there must be some logic and/or military strategy behind Eaton's proposal based on the facts of the situation. "A lot of us though we need to present multiple problems to President Putin" potentially refers to a group of retired military experts, but I can't be sure about that.

But to me it seems the idea is to drive NATO naval vessels into a known minefield and then complain about it. Am I missing something?

  • He may mean threatening instead of attacking. Or maybe it's just wishful thinking on his part. One should keep in mind that he seems to be retired, so not such an important voice maybe. Apr 4, 2022 at 22:58
  • @Trilarion Retired yet notable military figures have recently becoming a quite significant voice in US discourse on both military and occasional political issues, (yes, as well as paid commentators for news outlets) so I think that retired ≠ unimportant.
    – uhoh
    Apr 4, 2022 at 23:03
  • While we can’t really know what he meant at that moment, what I think he’s saying is that the US needs to be more aggressive in contesting the Black Sea. If Russia is mining the area, then it would restrict NATOs future options if need be. Instead, NATO should assert their right to access those waters. Clearly the US navy isn’t going to drive into a minefield, but if that gets established it will slow down and complicate any NATO response that might happen in the future. But that’s just speculation from a random guy on the internet without access to classified intel
    – divibisan
    Apr 5, 2022 at 1:23
  • 1
    @Trilarion Hey, maybe if a shooting war with Russia does start, there might be a chance for some of them to come out of retirement and relive their glory days... If KGB officers can do it, why not US generals?
    – Therac
    Apr 5, 2022 at 9:15

2 Answers 2


You quoted

where I have seen reports that the Russians are laying mines outside of Bulgaria,

That would be an attack if it is an attempt at a naval blockade of Bulgaria.


Turkey is a NATO member. Why wouldn't NATO have naval assets in the Black Sea? And, of course, if any Russian mines damage any NATO vessels off of the coast of a NATO country, that would be an attack on NATO. Why wouldn't it be?

  • 1
    If NATO decides to treat it as an attack - since it may lead to a major (even nuclear) war. E.g., after 2015 Russian Sukhoi Su-24 shootdown Turkey and Russia decided not to start a war over it: On 25 November, the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey spoke for an hour by telephone, and both governments stated that day that they would not initiate a war as a result of the incident. Apr 5, 2022 at 8:21
  • @RogerVadim that was still an attack by a Russian plane against Turkey. The plane was 1.36 miles inside of Turkey. The fact that Turkey agreed to treat it as an accident was more a result of Turkey's judgement that it was an accident than a decision to look the other way. If mines get deployed within Turkey's territorial waters, then there would be little doubt that it would be a result of deliberate, rather than accidental actions.
    – wrod
    Apr 5, 2022 at 22:07
  • If mines get deployed within Turkey's territorial waters - This is not the situation discussed here - territotial waters are only 12 nautical miles from the coast. Apr 6, 2022 at 7:49
  • @RogerVadim I don't see why it's not what's discussed here. Other than maybe adding Bulgaria to the answer. Both Bulgaria and Turkey are NATO members. And if Odessa is what's being discussed here, then really Romania being a NATO member is what's even more important. That's 3 NATO countries which are on the Black Sea.
    – wrod
    Apr 6, 2022 at 9:35
  • 1
    Because it is not the territorial waters that are mined. Apr 6, 2022 at 9:38

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