Political Games Have Damaged NATO's Security on the Black Sea

Isabela Mares
Reuters

Isabela Mares

Security, Eurasia

Domestic squabbles and American-French defense firms competing for buyers may have endangered the alliance.

Political Games Have Damaged NATO's Security on the Black Sea

We are repeatedly reminded of the looming political threat posed by Russia on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s northern border. However, NATO’s South-eastern border remains the most vulnerable frontier of the North Atlantic alliance. The Black Sea is an area of strategic importance connecting Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Russia has dramatically increased its military presence in the Black Sea and used this presence to sustain its military operations in Syria. In a symbolic projection of Russia’s power in the region, President Putin also inaugurated a bridge over the Kerch Strait, linking the Crimean Peninsula to Russia.

Moreover, recent political uncertainty in Turkey has created urgent challenges for NATO’s southeastern border. At the moment, NATO’s maritime defense capacities in and around the Black Sea remain highly vulnerable. Recent vulnerabilities include political polarization and stalemate in some of NATO’s European member countries. The alliance is also plagued the resurgence of economic and political conflict within NATO between the United States and European countries. These developments have stalled the investment in maritime Black Sea defense capacities and have significantly heightened security risks. To strengthen the southeastern front, NATO countries need to reaffirm the importance of a coordinated defense policy that integrates military defense in the Black Sea area and the Mediterranean Sea. Unfortunately, this policy emphasis on commonalities in defense capabilities has been pushed to the side in recent years, given America’s emphasis on burden sharing.

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