Power struggle in the Black Sea
Since the Russian annexation of Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, the Black Sea has become one of the areas of confrontation between Russia and the West. In response to Russian aggression towards Ukraine, NATO leaders decided in the Wales Summit on Sept. 4-5, 2014 to increase the Alliance's deterrence capability in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea, in order to reassure allies and partners.
The most recent NATO Defense Ministers Meeting on Feb. 15-16, 2017 in Brussels also endorsed two additional maritime measures: An enhanced NATO naval presence in the Black Sea, and a maritime coordination function between NATO Standing Naval Forces, which provides continuous naval presence for the Alliance in various seas around the world and allied forces in the Black Sea.
As the Black Sea has increasingly become an important component of Euro-Atlantic security, the Alliance has moved to bolster its military presence in the region through connecting the domains of air, land and sea.
These somewhat belated responses to Russia's assertive stance in the wider Black Sea region come with a background of a weak and inconclusive response to the 2008 Russian-Georgian War and half-hearted response to 2014 Russian aggression against Ukraine, and of course whatever happened in between. What really tipped the balance was the somewhat permanent status Russia has gained in the Eastern Mediterranean through Syria and the role its Black Sea Fleet played in this.
The geopolitical shift in the Black Sea has had consequences in the wider region over several dimensions.
From the political perspective, Russia's open disregard for rules and the basis of the international system with its illegal annexation of territory has had a corrosive effect in the region,...