Long Ignored, Black Sea Security Is Back On NATO’s Agenda
The United States and its NATO partners must pay closer attention to the Black Sea, particularly amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The United States and its NATO partners must pay closer attention to the Black Sea, particularly amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, a group of experts explained during a recent panel discussion on the matter held by the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).
Natia Seskuria, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, blamed NATO’s Black Sea absence for Russia’s belief that it can operate with impunity in the area.
“I think despite the strategic importance of the Black Sea and three littoral states being part of NATO, members of NATO, NATO still does not have a strict coherent strategy for the region,” she said during the panel.
“But the war in Ukraine has served almost sort of like a wake-up call for the U.S. or NATO and we see that the process has started and there is a greater thinking, greater focus on the Black Sea region,” Seskuria added. Still, she argued, the United States should not go at it alone. Instead, Washington should work in tandem with other NATO partners and allies to enforce norms in the region.
“And one more important point is to continue the security assistance to countries, non-NATO countries, especially Georgia, Ukraine, that are facing existential threats and to make sure that NATO and the United States remain united when it comes to deterring Russia,” Seskuria said.
Although Russia initially imposed a blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports with extensive mining and the stationing of warships throughout the Black Sea, Ukraine successfully pushed back against Russia’s blockade, sinking Russia’s Moskva flagship as well as several other smaller vessels. In addition, the embattled Ukrainian forces even managed to dislodge Russian forces from Snake Island, a small Ukrainian island in the Black Sea.
“So, the Black Sea is key to Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the South,” said Ivanna Kuz, a program assistant at CEPA’s Transatlantic Defense and Security section.
“It’s a central area that for Russia to gain more presence there and more control, it would threaten so many other parts of the world that the general public may not see that directly at first, but that would be the ultimate result,” she said.
Both Ukraine and the Black Sea are critical to how Russia views itself and how it perceives other countries’ views of Russia, explained Steven Horrell, a senior fellow for transatlantic defense and security at CEPA.
“That’s largely about the Black Sea region in the Russian mindset, and another strategic goal that spotlights the Black Sea for Russia, their desire to reclaim great power status,” he said. “They’ve got this idea of a multipolar world, Russia and Eurasia, on par with the U.S. in the west and with China.”
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.
Image: Flickr/U.S. Navy.