The Black Sea, a strategic issue for the protection of Europe

During the Cold War, the Black Sea, like the Baltic, was considered to be under Soviet control, with the USSR and the Warsaw Pact countries bordering more than 70% of its coasts. With the Soviet collapse, followed by the integration of Bulgaria and Romania into NATO and the rapprochements between the alliance and Georgia and Ukraine, it became a highly contested area, again, like the Baltic sea.

But where, in the Baltic Sea, Sweden and Finland continue to move closer to NATO, relations with Turkey, which controls the straits which give access to the Black Sea, are rapidly deteriorating, to the point of considering a departure from the alliance.

With the strengthening of Russian military power, and in particular of naval power in the Black Sea, the capture of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, then of Crimea and Donbass in 2013, Russia has significantly strengthened its position in this strategic area. The rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow also strengthens the Russian position, with Turkey having the possibility of preventing any sending of naval reinforcements. It should be noted that in the Baltic Sea, Russia also has a capacity to control “the straits” thanks to the Kaliningrad enclave, where two Marine infantry brigades, air forces and missile batteries are deployed. anti-aircraft S-400 and anti-ship Bastions, as well as Iskander missile batteries deployed “on demand”.

This is why NATO deployed reassurance measures in Romania, as it did in Poland and the Baltic States. A battalion-sized multinational force is now permanently deployed near the city of Craiova, Romania, and air detachments are reinforcing the capabilities of the Romanian Air Force.

Analysis of the balance of power in the Black Sea also allows us to highlight Turkey's strategic role in the alliance, due to its position both in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and its control of the straits. This is why, most likely, NATO members have tolerated President Erdogan’s abuses and provocations for a long time…

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