The Black Sea in the geopolitical equation-Editorial
The Black Sea, a semi-enclosed sea located in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia, has had significant geostrategic importance throughout history due to its position at the intersection of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The Black Sea has been an important commercial and strategic hub for centuries, with several ancient civilisations, including the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, establishing colonies along its shores. In recent years, the Black Sea region has become even more important due to the growing interest of regional and global powers in its energy resources. The Black Sea is believed to contain significant reserves of oil and gas, and several countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Turkey, are actively pursuing the development of these resources.
The Black Sea provides access to several key shipping routes, including those linking Europe and Asia, and has historically been a vital waterway for trade and commerce. The region is also home to several major ports, such as Odessa, Novorossiysk and Constanta, which serve as important hubs for trade and transport. The presence of these ports and the ease of access to key shipping routes have made the Black Sea region a hub of economic activity and a key component of global trade and commerce.
Another aspect of the geostrategic importance of the Black Sea region is the role it plays in the global security architecture. The region borders several NATO and EU member states, as well as several non-aligned states, making it a critical area for maintaining regional and global security.
The Black Sea region is also an important area for environmental protection, as the sea and its surrounding ecosystems provide a vital habitat for many wildlife species and are a key source of fresh water for countries in the region. Conservation of the Black Sea region’s natural resources and ecosystems is essential for the well-being of local communities and the region as a whole, as well as for maintaining regional and global security.
The wider region around the Black and Caspian Seas has so far played a role as a corridor for trade, transport and energy routes between Asia and Europe. However, with Russia’s war against Ukraine and the blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, this region is taking on greater geopolitical and geo-economic importance. Russia has already shifted the security balance in the Black Sea in its favour, annexing Crimea in 2014 and taking control of the Sea of Azov. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has turned the Black Sea into a hotspot that will preoccupy European politics for years to come.
While the EU is an important market for energy resources in the region and a major player in economic development as well as civil conflict management, it is not a major player in regional security. So far, the EU has neither shown the ambition nor created the institutional or material conditions to play a real role in the wider Black Sea and Caspian region.
Europe still does not have a strategy, let alone a presence, in the Black Sea. Maritime deployments compare poorly with the focus on deploying land forces in Romania, which means not taking full advantage of Romania’s key position as a Black Sea littoral state under the 1936 Montreux Convention.
Europe will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to have a credible deterrent and geopolitical vision without a serious, viable and well-resourced “Two Seas Strategy”. Moreover, a strategy that refers to the non-eastern (i.e., southern) end of its line of contact with Russia is simply incomplete, leaving a key strategic flank to the vagaries of fate, the machinations of other actors and circumstances. Among other reasons, such a strategy is also necessary because Russia itself sees its strategic line stretching from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, where Russia still has a naval base at Tartus in Syria.
Moreover, the absence of credible American and European strategies in the two seas has created a vacuum that has already led to the emergence of regional alliances which, in turn, have created new adverse and irreversible challenges to European stability and security.
In recent years, the Black Sea region has emerged as a critical area for European stability and security. The absence of a credible European strategy in the region has led to a power vacuum, which has been filled by regional actors pursuing their own interests. The 1936 Montreux Convention, which replaced the Treaty of Lausanne, effectively granted Turkey a favourable coastal status, including control and sovereignty over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. This limited the type of military vessels that could transit the two straits and made it difficult for Europe to assert a presence in the Black Sea region.
A viable and well-resourced ‘Two Seas Strategy’ is essential for Europe to have a credible deterrent and geopolitical vision in the region. The absence of credible US and European strategies in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean has created a vacuum that has led to new challenges to European stability and security. The future European security order will require a two seas strategy that assesses the impact of the Montreux Convention and considers mitigation scenarios in case no formal treaty change can be achieved.
NATO’s Strategic Concept has placed emphasis on strengthening NATO’s forward defensive posture, and the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea are an essential part of NATO’s strength. The extent to which Southern European states and Europe can refocus US interest on the Black Sea will determine a key part of any future European security order.
The involvement of non-EU and non-NATO states such as Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova will be crucial to the success of a two seas strategy. These states have a key role to play in shaping the future of the Black Sea region and ensuring its stability and security. A comprehensive and well-resourced Two Seas Strategy will help Europe achieve its goals in the Black Sea region and ensure that the region remains a centre of economic activity and a centre of political stability.
Russia’s war against Ukraine and its attempt to completely cut it off from its Black Sea ports and transit possibilities mean that the EU and NATO, as Europe’s crucial security partner, must play a greater role in the Black Sea.
The Mediterranean and the Black Sea are vital strategic regions that are essential to Europe’s security, prosperity and stability. In the past, these two seas were seen primarily as borders, but today they must be seen as connectors linking Europe to its energy suppliers, trading partners and people. The Mediterranean is a key trade route for oil, gas and other goods, while the Black Sea provides access to the energy-rich Caspian Sea.
The importance of these two seas extends beyond their role in Europe’s energy security. They also play a key role in Europe’s prosperity and stability. A strong naval power is needed to ensure the connectivity, prosperity and security of these seas, and Europe must take steps to expand its presence in both seas.
France has been the key player in the Mediterranean, but Europe must now develop a plan for the Black Sea and expand its presence in the Mediterranean. Romania and Bulgaria, as NATO and EU members, offer a unique opportunity to establish a strong naval presence in the Black Sea. If the Montreux Convention remains unchanged, this would provide Europe with additional military capabilities and alternative military denial options.
The EU must work to promote stability and security in the region and prevent the emergence of regional alliances that would pose a threat to European stability and security. This will also help to counter China’s growing influence in the region and provide protection against Russia’s attempts to dominate the Black Sea.
The absence of a credible European and American presence in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean has created a vacuum, leading to the formation of new regional alliances. These alliances pose new and irreversible challenges to European stability and security. For example, the Black Sea region has become a geopolitical arena for competition between Russia and the West, with Russia seeking to expand its influence in the region and prevent NATO and the EU from playing a role. Additionally, the growing influence of China in the region adds another layer of complexity to the security landscape.
The creation of regional alliances has also created new challenges for NATO and the EU. The member states in the Black Sea region, such as Romania and Bulgaria, have become increasingly important as NATO and EU littoral states, but they face challenges in balancing their relationships with Russia, the West, and their neighbors. The EU’s two separate neighborhood policies, the Eastern Partnership and the European Neighborhood Policy, also need to be coordinated and integrated into a comprehensive European strategic policy.
In recent years, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea have become increasingly important regions for Europe in terms of energy security, prosperity and stability. The Mediterranean provides Europe with access to its energy suppliers and trading partners in the Middle East and Africa, while the Black Sea is a crucial transit route for oil and gas pipelines from Russia and Central Asia to Europe.
However, Europe has not yet developed a comprehensive and integrated strategy to secure its interests in these two seas. The current approach, which relies on Frontex-type strategies and limited naval power, is insufficient to address the challenges Europe faces in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The region is increasingly challenged by various actors, including Russia, China and non-European countries. This has led to increased tensions and instability in the region, which poses a significant threat to Europe’s energy security, prosperity and stability.
To address this problem, Europe needs to develop a robust naval presence in both the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. This will require the integration of EU neighbourhood policies and a coordinated effort by NATO and EU members such as France and Romania to establish a significant naval presence in the Black Sea. The Montreux Convention, which regulates sovereignty, control and navigation between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, will play a crucial role in shaping Europe’s naval presence in the region.
It is important to note that a strong naval presence in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea is not only about security but also about economic opportunities. The region is home to some of the busiest shipping routes in the world and a strong naval presence will ensure the safety of these routes and the stability of the region. In addition, the development of submarine cables and pipelines in the region has created significant economic opportunities, and a robust naval presence will be essential to ensure their security.
The United States has a long-standing interest in the Black Sea region, which has historically served as a strategic crossroads between Europe and Asia. This interest has only grown in recent years as the region has become more unstable and subject to the influence of external powers.
The Black Sea region has been a region of significant geopolitical interest to the United States for several reasons. One of the main reasons is access to energy resources. The Black Sea region is a key transit point for oil and natural gas from Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region, which are important sources of energy for Europe and the world. As such, the US has a direct interest in ensuring the stability and security of these energy routes.
Another reason for US interest in the Black Sea region is Russia’s presence. The Black Sea region is a strategically important area for Russia as it provides the country with access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East. The United States sees Russia’s influence in the region as a potential threat to European stability and security and therefore seeks to counterbalance it.
The US also has a military presence in the Black Sea region, with naval forces operating regularly in the region. This presence serves as a signal to Russia and other actors in the region that the US is committed to maintaining stability and security in the area.
Ultimately, the United States has a geopolitical interest in the Black Sea region as it seeks to counter Russian influence and maintain its role as a dominant player in the region. The United States has made significant investments in NATO’s presence in the region, including through the establishment of military bases in Romania and Bulgaria, and has been a key player in diplomatic efforts to promote stability and security in the region.
Countries in the region, such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, are important partners for the US in promoting reform and reform. The US views these countries as key players in maintaining stability and security in the region and therefore seeks to support their efforts to deepen their ties with NATO and the European Union.
In conclusion, the US has a complex and multi-faceted interest in the Black Sea region, including energy security, military presence, countering Russia and promoting democracy and stability. The US will continue to be an active player in the region in the years ahead, seeking to maintain stability and security in the region and supporting its allies and partners in the region.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the security crisis in the Black Sea region
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is a political and military alliance of 30 North American and European countries founded in 1949. The purpose of the alliance is to ensure the collective defence of its member countries and to promote peace and security in the North Atlantic area. However, with the changing global security landscape and new emerging threats, NATO has had to reassess its role in maintaining security in the region. The security crisis in the Black Sea region has become a particularly pressing concern in recent years, requiring NATO to develop a new strategic concept to respond to these challenges.
The Black Sea region has become increasingly tense in recent years, with a number of security challenges emerging. These include increased military activity, territorial disputes and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In addition, the region faces other challenges such as the threat of terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the refugee crisis. These challenges pose a threat not only to the countries of the region, but also to the security of NATO member countries and the entire Euro-Atlantic area.
In response to these challenges, NATO has developed a new strategic concept to guide its future actions and priorities. The new Strategic Concept is expected to address a range of security challenges, including those in the Black Sea region. In particular, NATO is likely to focus on enhancing its ability to respond to emerging threats, improving its collective defence posture and strengthening its partnerships with countries in the region.
This could involve a number of measures, such as:
Increasing its military presence in the Black Sea region through the presence of ships and exercises with the navies of the littoral member countries,
Providing greater support to partner countries, including through training, equipment and technical assistance,
strengthening its crisis management and conflict prevention capabilities,
strengthening its partnerships with countries in the region, including through the NATO-Ukraine Commission and the NATO-Georgia Commission,
cooperation with other international organisations, such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), to promote stability and security in the region.
In conclusion, NATO plays a key role in promoting stability and security in the Black Sea region. The security crisis in the region requires NATO to adapt its approach and respond to emerging challenges. The development of a new Strategic Concept is an important step in this process, as it will guide NATO’s future actions and priorities in the region. However, it is important to note that the success of NATO’s efforts will depend on the cooperation and support of its member countries as well as partner countries in the region. Nevertheless, NATO is expected to continue to play an important role in promoting stability and security in the Black Sea region, working closely with its partner countries and other international organisations.
Romania’s adoption of a National Security Strategy in response to the security crisis in the Black Sea region is crucial for ensuring the country’s security and national interests. NATO’s new strategic concept and the security situation in the Black Sea region will have a significant impact on Romania’s National Security Strategy.
Here are some of the implications for Romania:
Strengthening national defence capabilities: Romania’s National Security Strategy must prioritise the strengthening of defence capabilities in order to respond to security challenges in the region. This may include investment in new equipment and technologies as well as the development of new military capabilities.
Strengthening partnerships: Romania must also strengthen its partnerships with NATO and other regional partners to better address security challenges in the Black Sea region. This may involve closer cooperation on intelligence sharing, joint military exercises and other forms of joint action.
Addressing the threat of terrorism: The security crisis in the Black Sea region is also likely to increase the threat of terrorism, which Romania needs to address as a priority in its national security strategy. This may include efforts to improve internal security and intelligence capabilities, as well as close cooperation with international partners to counter the threat.
Promoting stability and security in the region: Romania should also work to promote stability and security in the Black Sea region, including through its role in NATO and other international organisations. This may include efforts to support conflict resolution and peacekeeping missions, as well as providing economic and humanitarian assistance to countries in the region.
Managing the refugee crisis: The ongoing conflict in the Black Sea region is likely to lead to an increase in the number of refugees, which Romania must be prepared to manage as part of its national security strategy. This may include providing assistance to refugees and supporting international efforts to address the root causes of the crisis.
In conclusion, the security crisis in the Black Sea region and the development of a new NATO strategic concept will have significant implications for Romania’s National Security Strategy. Romania must prioritise its defence capabilities, strengthen its partnerships, address the threat of terrorism, promote stability and security in the region and manage the refugee crisis to ensure its security and national interests.
The Mediterranean and the Black Sea are not just borders for Europe, but key strategic regions linking Europe to its energy suppliers, trading partners and the high seas. Developing a comprehensive and integrated strategy, including a robust naval presence, is essential to ensure Europe’s interests in the region and to guarantee its energy security, prosperity and stability. Time is of the essence, and Europe must act now to meet these challenges and seize the opportunities offered by the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Time is of the essence and Europe must act quickly to protect its interests in these two critical regions.
ANALYSIS: Maritime Security Forum