Presentation on theme: "Assessing the Strategic Importance of the Black Sea Region"— Presentation transcript:
1Assessing the Strategic Importance of the Black Sea Region James BosbotinisFellow of the AIPRG
2IntroductionThis presentation will examine the principal geopolitical, strategic and geo-economic factors influencing the Black Sea regional system.This will elucidate the strategic importance of the region.The requirement for Grand Strategic engagement by the Euro-Atlantic Community and the Region will also be discussed.
3The Regional SystemThe Black Sea region is of increasing geopolitical, military-strategic and geo-economic importance.The region constitutes the south-eastern frontier of NATO and the EU and is the juncture at which Europe, Russia, Asia and the Middle East meet.It is also at the crux of two spheres of influence; those of the West and Russia.
4The Regional SystemThe security and stability of the region is crucial to that of Europe and the Euro-Atlantic Community.Of particular significance are the continuing conflicts afflicting Moldova (vis-á-vis Transnistria), Georgia (vis-á-vis Abkhazia and South Ossetia) and Armenia and Azerbaijan (vis-á-vis Nagorno-Karabakh); the political trajectories of Ukraine and Georgia; the resurgence of Russia; and soft-security threats including human, narcotics and arms trafficking, transnational terrorism and organised criminal activity.
5The Regional SystemThe region is also of increasing geo-economic importance especially with regard to developing European energy security via the import of hydrocarbon resources from the Caspian Basin and Central Asia and its potential as a hub within a Pan-European Transport Area.
6The Black Sea Region and the Euro-Atlantic Community The Black Sea region is a zone of common interest for the two principal institutions of the Euro-Atlantic Community; NATO and the EU.Both organisations are engaged in dialogue with interested parties and aspirant members in the region; such engagement is essential for securing the strategic interests of those involved and ensuring the security, stability and prosperity of the region.
7The Black Sea Region and the Euro-Atlantic Community The nexus of frozen conflicts, instability in the Russian North Caucasus, deficits in governance and economic development, and Russia’s resurgence pose serious challenges to both NATO and the EU.Engagement with the region to promote and develop security, stability and prosperity is essential for both regional and wider international security. The development of a stable regional system will thus allow the region’s potential as an economic hub to be realised and enable its use as a launch-pad for power projection to mitigate threats to Euro-Atlantic security in the Middle East and Eurasia.
8The Military-Strategic Value of the Region The Black Sea region is at the forefront of a military realignment in Europe seeing a shift from central to south-eastern Europe.The US Army Europe (USAREUR) has created the Joint Task Force East and is developing an active military relationship and presence in Romania and Bulgaria, including the pre-positioning of equipment and the forward-deployment of forces when necessary.
9The Military-Strategic Value of the Region This is reflective of the value of the Black Sea region as a launch-pad for projecting power into the Caucasus, Eurasia, and the Middle East. Cooperative Security Locations in the South Caucasus are also being developed.The region also serves as a potential bulwark against threats to Europe, effectively forming a buffer zone with the Middle East and Eurasia.
10The Military-Strategic Value of the Region The region is of military-strategic significance due to its unstable security environment.The frozen conflicts in Moldova, Georgia and between Armenia and Azerbaijan; the destabilisation of the North Caucasus; Russo-Ukrainian/Georgian tensions; and the deterioration in Russo-Western relations pose a significant risk to the regional security system.
11Russia and the Black Sea Region The region is of critical importance to Russia, in particular with regard to Ukraine’s trajectory, secessionism in the North Caucasus and defending its interests in the South Caucasus.Russia’s vehement opposition to NATO engagement with regional states, its support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and general desire to minimise foreign influence in its “near-abroad” warrant substantial concern for the Euro-Atlantic Community.Russia maintains a significant military presence in the region and intends to substantially modernise those forces over the mid-term.
12The Strategic Importance of the Black Sea Region The geopolitical, military-strategic and geo-economic importance of the wider Black Sea Region assure its strategic significance.The region is a zone of opportunity for developing as a partner within the Euro-Atlantic Community via NATO and the EU. It also provides an important conduit for cooperation and partnership with Russia due to the shared interest in ensuring the security, stability and prosperity of the region. However, should relations with Russia deteriorate, the region would be a crucial bulwark for European security.
13A Grand Strategy for the Black Sea Region Engagement between the Euro-Atlantic Community and the states of the Black Sea region should not be on the basis of political, military or economic issues but rather should be structured holistically to promote to security, stability and prosperity via conflict resolution, confidence-building and cooperation.Economic development requires security and stability as does improving governance; security and governance must also address economic development.
14A Grand Strategy for the Black Sea Region In short, the nexus of challenges confronting the region require a nexus of strategies to mitigate them.This will require strategic engagement covering the political, military-strategic and economic spheres including cooperation between the principal European/Euro-Atlantic institutions (NATO, EU, OSCE) to ensure the integration of the region as a core element of the Euro-Atlantic Community.Engagement with Russia must also be structured this way so to build confidence and ensure relations in the region are based on cooperation rather than confrontation.