Skip to content


BLACK SEA CHRONICLES / CMN. Geopolitical logbook at the Euxin Bridge1 9th edition, Saturday, 30 March 2024-Weekly summary prepared by the experts of the Black Sea House Association / Black Sea House- Constanta, Coordinator Dorin POPESCU

I. White Chronicles
 “Patriarch” Kiril unmasks “Tsar” Putin. The Russian Orthodox Church once again blesses the military aggression against Ukraine, which it calls a holy war, and states much more clearly than the secular authorities in the Kremlin the objectives of the war against Ukraine: ‘The special military operation is a new stage in the national liberation struggle of the Russian people against the criminal regime in Kiev and the collective West behind it, waged on the lands of southwestern Russia since 2014. During it, the Russian people, with weapons in hand, are defending their lives, freedom, statehood, civilizational, religious, national and cultural identity, and the right to live on their own land within the borders of a single Russian state. From a spiritual and moral point of view, the special military operation is a Holy War, in which Russia and its people defend the unique spiritual space of Holy Russia and defend the world from the onslaught of globalism and the victory of the West, which has fallen into Satanism. After the completion of the north-eastern military district, the entire territory of modern Ukraine should enter Russia’s exclusive zone of influence. The possibility of a Russophobic political regime hostile to Russia and its people, as well as a political regime controlled from an external centre hostile to Russia, must be completely ruled out on this territory” . According to the Order, “Russia should return to the doctrine of the trinity of the Russian people, which has existed for more than three centuries, according to which the Russian people is made up of the Velikoru, Maloru and Belorussian peoples, who are branches (sub-ethnicities) of a single people, and the concept ‘Russian’ covers all the East Slavs, the descendants of historical Russia”. The document is, in fact, a religious substantiation and legitimisation of Moscow’s imperialist project to annex large territories in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova (NovoRussia) and to remake the Soviet USSR project into a neo-Soviet version, USSR 2.0.
 Islamist terrorist attacks and service culprits in Russia. Special units of the Russian Federal Security Service / FSB recently announced the prevention of new terrorist attacks on the territory of the Russian Federation and the blocking of terrorist groups in the Dagestan region of the North Caucasus. At the same time, 6 members of the Islamic State terrorist group were liquidated and an intensified anti-terrorist regime was introduced in Ingushetia on 2 March, before the terrorist attack at the Crocus City shopping complex. Also in Tajikistan, 15 people suspected of preparing further terrorist attacks were arrested, as well as 9 people suspected of links to the organisation of the Crocus City terrorist attack; these people are suspected of links to the radical Islamist organisation Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the Crocus City attack. Despite this evidence, the Russian authorities insist on building a so-called “Ukrainian trail” in the organisation of the terrorist attack, which killed 144 people and injured 551. At the express recommendation of President Putin to build the so-called “Ukrainian trail”, the heads of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (Alexander Bortnikov), the Foreign Intelligence Service (Sergei Narashkin) and the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation have been sending out layered propaganda messages in the public sphere that follow the Kremlin’s ideological line: the attackers allegedly had links to Ukrainian media, received large sums of money and cryptocurrencies from “Ukrainian nationalists”, received assurances that they would be welcomed in Ukraine, moved towards the Ukrainian border, etc.
 Increasing military production on Moscow’s top agenda. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shigu visited Russian enterprises in the military-industrial complex in the Altai region. One of the production units visited is said to have increased its production of ammunition and armaments by 3.5 times by 2022, opened new production lines, modernised its current production lines, doubled the number of employees in the last two years and increased their salaries by about 30%. The Russian minister has called for the acceleration of development times for new types of ammunition and armaments in the design offices of the Military-Industrial Complex units. Such visits to Russia are becoming frequent again.
 Moscow responds to Zelensky’s possible easing of negotiations. Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski’s statement that negotiations with Russia would be possible even before Russia withdraws its troops at the 1991 borders of the two states has provoked cascading reactions in Moscow (other statements by the Ukrainian leader: when Ukraine liberates Russian-occupied territories after 2022, a number of countries will withdraw their support for Russia and Moscow will be interested in negotiations with Ukraine). In general, Russian officials believe that Zelensky has softened his stance on bilateral negotiations by admitting the possibility of negotiations before the withdrawal of Russian troops. Russian Presidential Administration spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Ukraine must take into account the new realities (i.e. the illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory by the Russian army): “The geopolitical reality has changed dramatically; both the borders of Ukraine and the Russian Federation have changed. We have four new entities, and this cannot be ignored; this is a new reality that everyone will have to take into account.” Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said that a possible Russian return to the 1991 borders with Ukraine would mean a global Russian war with the West. Maria Zaharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, links these statements to the internal political difficulties President Zelenski is going through in the context of the postponement of the presidential elections in Ukraine.
 New counter-attacks on the Global Peace Summit in Geneva. Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski has admitted that a number of countries have declined invitations to attend the Global Peace Summit in Geneva to avoid the risk of damaging their bilateral relations with Russia. According to him, many partners are delaying their response to accept the joint Ukrainian-Swiss invitation because of this risk, especially as their relationship with Russia is financially probitable for some of these countries. Russia’s position, expressed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: The Swiss hold regular “meetings” in the “Copenhagen format”, inviting everyone and forcing them to agree to Volodimir Zelensky’s “formula”, to support it or at least to declare their readiness to discuss part of it. The Swiss will convene another meeting, in Switzerland, at the invitation of Ukraine, the West and as many countries of the South as possible, to which we will not be invited, but to which they will finally bring Volodimir Zelenski’s ‘formula’ to a conclusion and try to modify it, to make it more acceptable. When they finally agree to the new formula, when it becomes a ‘collective product’, then, they say, they will be happy to invite us to the next meeting and present it to us. Such a variant will not be accepted by Russia. The risk of the Global Peace Summit being boycotted by Russia’s partners is becoming clearer. A decision to postpone it is not excluded.
 The theme of a NATO-Russia confrontation remains a common one in the West. According to the German foreign minister, Russian President Vladimir Putin is working to draw NATO into an open military conflict with Russia, a scenario NATO will not allow. According to the German official, a Russian victory in Ukraine would endanger security in Europe and the world order. Annalena Baerbock also rejects the idea of sending German troops to Ukraine. Similar statements come from Poland. Admiral Rob Bauer, head of the alliance’s military committee, says there are no signs of Russia preparing to attack a NATO member state: “At the moment there is no direct threat. At the same time, NATO must be ready for a direct military confrontation with Russia, as Russia’s ambitions go beyond Ukraine.
 Zelenski: without American support, the Ukrainian army will crumble step by step. President Zelenski said that without American support, the Ukrainian army will crumble step by step on the frontline and lose several cities: ‘If there is no more American support, we will have no air defences, no missiles for Patriot systems, no means of radio-electronic warfare, no 155 mm artillery ammunition. It means that we will yield step by step, in small steps; if the front line collapses, Russian troops will be able to enter the big cities’. The Ukrainian Armed Forces need ammunition for about 8,000 artillery rounds a day along the front line. Without US support, Ukraine will face a huge shortage of missiles, air defence systems. Volodimir Zelenski: If, on the contrary, the West can continue to help Ukraine, the frontline can remain stable and Ukraine can prepare for a new counter-offensive as early as 2024. If not, the counteroffensive will be triggered by Russia.
 Kiev is waiting for ATACMS missiles to strike Crimea. According to Zelenski, Ukraine will use ATACMS missiles to hit targets in the Crimean Peninsula: The answer to Russian attacks on energy infrastructure targets in Ukraine is ATACMS missiles. When Russia understands that we will have missiles with which we can strike aircraft from military airfields in Crimea, it will stop attacking Ukraine from the Peninsula. Because of the blocking of additional US support of $61 billion, Ukraine has already lost about half a year.
 New commitments of military-technical support for Ukraine. Munitions deliveries to Ukraine under the Czech Initiative have already started. Belgium has granted Ukraine, as part of its 25th support package for Ukraine, new financial support of €100 million for servicing and maintenance operations on F-16 aircraft to be delivered to the Ukrainian Air Force in the coming months. According to French Defence Minister Sébastien Lecornu , France will supply Ukraine with hundreds of armoured personnel carriers and anti-aircraft missiles in the coming period. The delivery of armoured personnel carriers will take place in 2024 and early 2025. France is currently replacing its fleet of APCs, some of which are over 40 years old, with new Griffon armoured vehicles. The older models, which will be delivered to Kiev, are still operational. Paris will supply Kiev with additional Aster 30 air defence missiles for the SAMP/T air defence system.
 Developments on the Ukrainian F-16 fleet. Recent press data states that Denmark will deliver 19 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine. Another 24 aircraft may be sold to Argentina, with their subsequent transfer to Kiev. The first deliveries will take place during June this year, according to the Lithuanian defence minister. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that military airfields outside Ukraine from which Ukrainian Air Force F016s carrying out combat tasks against the Russian military will take off will become legitimate targets of the Russian Armed Forces.
 The Baltic countries are calling for mandatory military internships in NATO. The Presidents of Latvia and Estonia recently publicly called on NATO member countries to increase national military budgets to Cold War levels and to consider the advisability of returning to compulsory military service in their national armies, even if this decision would be seen as unpopular in the member countries. In 2023, the decision to reinstate compulsory military service was adopted in Lithuania and Sweden, while in Estonia, Finland and Norway, compulsory military service has not been changed since the Cold War. At present, according to the two Presidents, there is a significant shortage of military personnel and active military personnel in the Armed Forces of NATO countries, as well as a related shortage in the military reserve of these countries. Military budgets also need to be raised to the level of the US military budget. At the moment, according to them, the Baltic countries allocate more than 2% of GDP to defence and intend to raise their national military budgets to 3%, which needs to happen in all member countries. According to the Baltic officials, currently about 68% of NATO defence spending has been allocated by the US. In 2023, the US will have spent about $860 billion on defence, while European NATO members and Canada – about $404 billion.
 Admiral Rob Bauer, NATO: new mobilisation needed in Ukraine. At the Kiev Security Forum, the head of NATO’s Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, said a new mobilisation is needed in Ukraine to replenish the human reserve on the front: Ukraine needs “not only grenades, but also people, to replace the human losses suffered, the dead and wounded; and that means a new mobilisation”. A draft law on tightening the framework for mobilisation is currently still under discussion in the Supreme Rada, and proposed solutions include mobilisation by electronic means and lowering the age of mobilisation from 27 to 25. There is still no need for a mobilisation of about 500,000 people, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said recently. On 20 March this year, Ukraine’s prime minister Denis Shmigal admitted that it would be enough for Kiev to mobilise less than 500,000 troops, given the ongoing military rotations and the armaments that have been arriving from the West recently.
 Bucharest-Chisinau relations are strengthening. The celebration on 27 March of the 106th anniversary of the union of Bessarabia with its “mother Romania” has generated new public solidarity actions between Romania and the Republic of Moldova. The Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova and the President of the Parliament were in Bucharest, having relevant meetings and public actions (Prime Minister Dorin Recean was received at the Royal House of Romania by the Custodian of the Crown, Margareta, at the Elisabeta Palace, after the President of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Grosu, had been received by the Custodian of the Crown), and the President of the Parliament had an official meeting with the Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu. The two Moldovan officials participated in the opening of the 2nd edition of the Forum “Moldova – Romania: Capital Bridges”, held in Bucharest (an event organised by the Bucharest Stock Exchange, together with partners from the Republic of Moldova and Romania, which aims to promote strong economic cooperation and interconnection between the capital markets of the Republic of Moldova and Romania). On this occasion, the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Moldova, the Government of the Republic of Moldova, the Government of Romania and other public institutions from Romania and the Republic of Moldova delivered public messages on the strategic and privileged relationship between the two countries. President Maia Sandu reiterated Romania’s continuous and unconditional support for the Republic of Moldova. Later, President Maia Sandu participated in the start of the construction of a new overhead power line linking the energy system of the Republic of Moldova with that of Romania – the start of the construction works of the 400 kV Overhead Power Line on the Vulcanesti-Chisinau direction. According to it, “the power line, whose construction starts from Congaz, will cross 8 districts, over a distance of 158 km, and will be completed in 2025. Work is also underway on the next three interconnection lines with Romania and Ukraine: Balti-Suceava, Strășeni-Gutinaș and Vulcănești – Arciz in the Odessa region”. The line will pass through Gagauzia and Taraclia, Cahul, Leova, Cimislia, Hancesti and Ialoveni districts.
 Shots and narrative salvoes from the Russian Foreign Ministry to Chisinau. In return, in reaction, Moscow is again adjusting its narrative fire towards Chisinau and Bucharest. Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister: In Moldova, President Maia Sandu has openly set a course for severing relations with the Russian Federation. Maia Sandu has been turned into an instrument for the development of the geopolitical space by the European Union, and in the future by NATO. Everything is moving in this direction, even though Moldova’s Constitution contains a neutral status. The Alliance has already made Ukraine an instrument of its aggression. Now they want the same with Moldova… Moldova has decided to leave Transnistria. There is probably a desire to quickly unite with Romania and thereby gain some additional opportunities. Perhaps they are counting on a military solution to the Transnistrian problem. This would be unwise for the leadership of the Republic of Moldova. I think they should understand that. Maria Zaharova, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson: The Moldovan leadership continues to voice the standard set of accusations against Russia, including about waging a “hybrid war” and “undermining Moldova’s European path”. Moscow’s task, according to the logic of the leaders in Chisinau, is to get Moldova off the “European path” by any means. According to Maria Zaharova, some 60% of Moldovans would not elect Maia Sandu in the presidential elections in autumn 2024, and 62% do not agree with the appointment of Romanian nationals to state posts. Maria Zaharova: We will reject with dignity the lies of the M.G.Sandu regime. With his actions, the President of Moldova strikes not so much at Russia and the feelings of its citizens, but strikes even harder at the love of Moldovans for their culture, their country, their land and their true heroes… Under the guise of reintegration, the authorities in Chisinau are forcing the militarization of the republic, turning the country into part of the aggressive anti-Russian periphery of Europe, into (another) country whose people are sacrificed and placed on the “altar” of NATO madness. I have repeatedly said that all this contradicts the true interests of the Moldovan people. The course pursued by Maia Sandu is aimed at destroying Moldova itself. Its main aim is the destruction of the country. As a Romanian citizen, this is how she formulates her position in life. Public opinion polls show that already some 60% of Moldovans are against NATO membership (only 28% are in favour), two thirds do not support increased military assistance to Ukraine and do not believe that Russia can be defeated ‘on the battlefield’.
 New Russian interference in Moldova. Moldova’s ambassador to the Russian Federation has been summoned to the Russian MFA to inform him of the Russian side’s decision to expel a Moldovan diplomat from the diplomatic mission in Moscow in response to the recent declaration of a Russian diplomat as persona non grata by the authorities in Chisinau. The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said after Russia’s decision that the Moldovan authorities will continue to take all necessary measures to prevent Russian attempts to interfere in the country’s internal affairs: “The MFA confirms the summoning of the Moldovan Ambassador to Moscow, Lilian Darii, to the Russian Foreign Ministry. In this context, the Moldovan diplomat was informed that a staff member of the Moldovan Embassy in Moscow has been declared persona non-grata on the territory of the Russian Federation and is to return to our country. The MFA regrets this decision and reiterates that the Moldovan authorities are taking all necessary measures to prevent attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Republic of Moldova”.
 The EU supports Armenia’s exit from Russian influence. Several European leaders recently presented a report entitled “Deepening EU-Armenia relations: More Europe in Armenia; More Armenia in Europe” to the Group of Friends of Armenia, which indicates the main areas where the European Union’s relations with Armenia need to be deepened in the wider context of the country’s attempts to emerge from Russian influence. One dimension is strengthening the security of Armenia’s external borders. Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, one of the co-authors of the report, said in context that “Armenia is a democracy in an incredibly difficult geopolitical neighbourhood. The government of Prime Minister Pashin has taken a bold decision to diversify Armenia’s foreign policy and turn towards the West. The democracies of the world – and the European Union in particular – must act to support Armenia in this pivot.” Russia’s response was swift.
 Moscow is fighting politically to maintain control over Armenia. For the Russian Foreign Minister, Russian military base 102 in Armenia (Gyumri) would be the only guarantee of Armenia’s sovereignty: “The presence of Russian military base 102 and Russian border guards is the only real guarantee of Armenia’s sovereignty. The EU’s proposals in the area of Armenia’s security are contrary to common sense. The idea that the withdrawal of our forces will strengthen the military potential of the Republic of Armenia is dangerous demagogy. By forcing an overhaul of today’s security system, the West offers nothing concrete in return.” According to Sergey Lavrov, the aim of the Report is to break Armenia away from Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union, and Armenia is gradually turning into an instrument for implementing the West’s dangerous plans in the region. The Armenian Prime Minister’s decision to invite an EU mission to Armenia has created the conditions for a multiplication of the presence in Armenia, and the EU mission has extended its mandate in Armenia indefinitely and has become a de facto NATO mission, with military presences from Norway, the USA and Canada on Armenian territory. Russian Presidency spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Caucasus region is attracting the attention of various extra-regional forces and the Russian-Armenian bilateral relationship is experiencing difficult times in this context. Russian Ambassador to Armenia Sergei Kopârkin reiterated that the additional Russian posts on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border were set up at the express request of Armenian Premier Nikolai Palininan, who is now explicitly denouncing the presence of Russian border forces on the ground. Kirill Komarov, ROSATOM’s first deputy director-general, said that ROSATOM can offer Armenia nuclear reactors with a capacity of 50 to 1,000 MW. Maria Zaharova commented on the EU-US-Armenia meeting in Brussels on 5 April.
 Baku sees the EU as a regional provocateur. The Azerbaijani side also joins the critical messages about the EU-US-Armenia trilateral meeting. According to official messages from Baku, the meeting will discuss possible security guarantees for Armenia from the EU and the US. EU officials have denied that this issue will be discussed at the meeting. According to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Pavel Knyazev, Armenia’s foreign partners will push Yerevan to engage in new provocations at the meeting, given the massive revanchist sentiments in Yerevan at the moment.

II. Code Reds
 Russian troops are slowly advancing on the front. Ukrainian Presidential Administration adviser Mihailo Podoliak said that Russian troops continue to advance slowly on the front in southeastern Ukraine. In this context, Ukraine is unable to solve its arms and ammunition shortage problems and is preparing for any scenario: “We are on the defensive and they are pressing us; they continue to equip themselves with weapons, consolidate their positions and mobilise additional human resources.” He assesses that the Russian Armed Forces are not capable of a robust counteroffensive, but they will continue to advance slowly in the coming period without the Ukrainian army being able to hit their logistics. According to him, Russia is not interested in freezing this conflict now, being on the offensive, and Moscow’s interest is to occupy large territories in Ukraine and gradually dominate Europe.
 The Russian military is focusing on two main lines of advance. The Russian army is trying to advance tactically in eastern Ukraine, in the Donetsk region, where it is stepping up strikes on Ukrainian forces deployed in the town of Ciasov Yaroslav. This town is the Russian army’s next target. Occupying this town (which is at a considerable height) would allow the Russian army to gain control of artillery fire on Constantinov, Durjkov and Kramatorsk and create a strong platform for an assault on important towns such as Constantinov and later Slaviansk. A second tactical thrust of the Russian army is west of Ugledar.
 Zelenski does not rule out a Russian counter-offensive on the front in the next two months. Other recent statements by the Ukrainian president: in order to prepare a new counter-offensive, Ukraine needs to prepare and equip new brigades. Ukraine’s “Drone Army” programme aims to produce drones that can strike targets about 1,000 km deep into Russian territory. Maritime drones will also be used to keep the Russian Black Sea fleet as far away from the Ukrainian coast as possible. “But you can’t win a war with drones alone.” According to the Ukrainian leader, Russian forces could be ready for a new offensive in late May or early June this year.
 The pattern of combined Russian missile and drone strikes is changing. Energy infrastructure targets throughout Ukraine are being targeted as a priority; hydropower plants throughout Ukraine are among the preferred targets; increasingly frequent strikes are being recorded in the western regions of Ukraine (including Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Hmelnitsky, Chernivtsi). For the first time, the Russian Armed Forces reportedly used the 1.5-tonne ODAB-1500 aviation bomb (in the Sumy region of Ukraine). Previously, they had used smaller variants ranging from 170 kg to 500 kg. The destructive range of a bomb of this type is about 500 square metres.
 Spring recruitment and seasonal mobilisation in Russia. The Russian President has signed the decree on spring recruitment into the Russian Armed Forces. According to the document, men aged between 18 and 30 will be recruited for 12 months from 1 April to 15 July; the number is estimated at around 150,000. According to Russian military officials, the recruits will not take part in the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. In the West and in Ukraine, the decree has raised new concerns. Current fears are that the new recruits may be sent to the front as part of covert mobilisations. According to the most recent report by the British Ministry of Defence, Russia is mobilising around 30,000 troops a month for the war in Ukraine.
 The Russian army has reportedly begun a new covert mobilisation in the Lugansk region. The mobilisation measures are part of a recruitment campaign that takes place every spring in Russia. The compulsory mobilisation campaign will continue in the Lugansk region from April this year until July this year. A decree to this effect has already been signed by local representatives of the Russian occupation regime. Men born between 1994 and 2006 will be mobilised. Ukrainian experts estimate that Russia is in great need of mobilised military personnel, including for the two new military districts, Moscow and Leningrad; the need for military personnel to compete with the military strength of the two districts would amount to 200,000 people; the Russian authorities are considering, in order to achieve this objective, covert mobilisations in the occupied Ukrainian territories and the recruitment of mercenaries in Africa and the Middle East.

III. Grey alerts
 In the short term, the medium-intensity alerts concern: new escalations in the war in Ukraine; hybrid actions by the Russian Federation to destabilise the political situation in some countries of the region, with priority given to Moldova and Armenia.

IV. Black Swans
 Breakdown of the front in southern and eastern Ukraine; one side taking the strategic initiative.
 Moscow’s provocation of a destabilisation of the political situation in the Republic of Moldova within the framework of the current hybrid war against it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top