NATO and Russia in the Black Sea: A New Confrontation?

NATO and Russia in the Black Sea: A New Confrontation? Center for Strategic & International Studies. Boris Toucas. March 6, 2017

With the recent completion of the NATO Sea Shield exercise and NATO defense ministers’ approval of an enhanced force presence in the Black Sea, as Russian aircraft fly close to U.S. vessels operating there, this commentary focuses on the strategic implications of NATO’s military presence in the Black Sea. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Reducing Tensions Between Russia and NATO

Reducing Tensions Between Russia and NATO. Council on Foreign Relations. Kimberly Marten. March 2017.

“[Vladimir] Putin’s aggression makes the possibility of a war in Europe between nuclear-armed adversaries frighteningly real,” writes Kimberly Marten in a new Council Special Report on tensions between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). She outlines how U.S. policymakers can deter Russian aggression with robust support for NATO, while reassuring Russia of NATO’s defensive intentions through clear words and actions based in international law.

Marten, a professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, and director of the Program on U.S.-Russia Relations at Columbia’s Harriman Institute, lays out several scenarios that could lead to a dangerous confrontation, ranging from an inadvertent encounter between NATO and Russian military aircraft or ships to an intentional Russian land grab in Europe. The report, produced by the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers a plan for how the Donald J. Trump administration could work with Congress and NATO allies to lessen the chances of crisis escalation. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 67 pages, 2.04 MB].

The Geostrategic Importance of the Black Sea Region: A Brief History

The Geostrategic Importance of the Black Sea Region: A Brief History. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Boris Toucas. February 2, 2017

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014 refocused global attention on the strategic significance of a region that rests on the fault lines of two former empires—the Russian and Ottoman Empires—with involvement by European powers, such as Great Britain, France, and Germany. This analysis provides an overview of the region with a view that the past is prologue to the region’s future as restive powers reanimate empirical political and military strategies in a modern context. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank

Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank. RAND Corporation. David A. Shlapak, Michael Johnson. November 2016.

Russia’s recent aggression against Ukraine has disrupted nearly a generation of relative peace and stability between Moscow and its Western neighbors and raised concerns about its larger intentions. From the perspective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the threat to the three Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—former Soviet republics, now member states that border Russian territory—may be the most problematic. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The US Faces Rival Powers Waging Hybrid Warfare

The US Faces Rival Powers Waging Hybrid Warfare. YaleGlobal. Richard Weitz. January 12, 2016.

Overall, global military spending decreased in 2014 from the previous year, reports the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The United States spends more than other countries on defense, yet struggles against the skillful use of hybrid tactics by China and Russia, explains Richard Weitz. Weitz explains that “both authoritarian states have applied various military, paramilitary, legal, economic and information tools in the western Pacific and Eurasia to expand their regional influence, divide potential opponents and otherwise seize the strategic initiative.” The West must analyze the various hybrid tactics and develop rapid responses that include technology and counter media-messaging. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The US and Russia Face to Face as Ice Curtain

The US and Russia Face to Face as Ice Curtain. YaleGlobal. Humphrey Hawksley. November 5, 2015.

The U.S. defense budget for 2014 is more than double that of Russia and China’s combined. Measuring naval strength is trickier as comparisons of hulls or personnel matter less than surveillance and sophisticated weaponry and vessels like ice-cutters. As climate change melts sea ice, countries eye the Arctic for natural resources and trade routes, reassessing naval positions. Journalist Humphrey Hawksley writes about the Ice Curtain between the United States and Russia, one of three symbolic frontiers of the Cold War with just 88 kilometers separating each mainland: “Russia is bolstering its military presence there while reminding that its maritime boundary with the United States remains in dispute. For its part, the United States has stayed quiet.” The border between two rivals is described as non-hostile. Alaskans and Russians struggle with budgets too dependent on oil, yet are hopeful that melting sea ice means more development, infrastructure and trade for their remote settings. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The Militarization of Crimea under Russian Occupation

The Militarization of Crimea under Russian Occupation. Atlantic Council. Andrii Klymenko. October 29, 2015.

In the report, Crimean activist Andrii Klymenko explains how the Kremlin has moved to tighten its grip on Crimea as the world turns its focus toward Syria. Indeed, Russia has proven itself to be settling in for the long haul in Crimea, with mass relocations of Russian military servicemen to the peninsula spurring housing shortages and massive infrastructure projects. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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