From SOT Staff: The Ionian Sea lies between Italy and Greece atop the Mediterranean Sea. Warships transiting to and from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean Sea pass alongside the bottom right of the Ionian Sea. Why is this important? Ukraine sits atop the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean lies next to the south through the Bosporus Strait that passes through Istanbul in Turkey. As part of the joint plan agreed some years ago by Russia and China, Russia seeks to position itself as the dominant influencer in the Mediterranean and Middle East by its annexation of Crimea, war on Ukraine, and conquest of the Ukrainian port cities and Black Sea coast. If successful, Russia will logically build a major southern naval base there, and the usefulness of that base will be wholly dependent on the Bosporus Strait for access to the Mediterranean and from there to the Atlantic. Logically, Putin and Russia will next need to secure total control over the land around the Bosporus Strait to guarantee this strategic plan.