British think tanks discuss the Black Sea and more

By Yunus Soner
Jul 8, 2021

The Black Sea increasingly stands out as one of the global regions of tension. Following the colored revolution in the Ukraine and the cessation of Crimea to the Russian Federation, NATO has decided to increase its presence since 2014 in the Black Sea. The British government declared in its Integrated Review the Black Sea as one of the main field of raised military and political intervention.

2021 saw with Defender Europe21 and Sea Breeze21 two major NATO military drills that exercised large-scale military operations targeting the Russian Federation.

Tensions reached a new peak with the British Navy vessel Defender entering Crimean coastal waters, a move that the Russian Federation evaluated as violation of territorial integrity and responded by firing warning shots at the vessel.

In the meantime, important and influential British Think Tanks discuss the events and strategies of Britain concerning the Black Sea.

The Council of Geostrategy, which among others carries in its Advisory Boars Andrew Bowie, Vice Chairman of the governing Conservative Party, asks the following question:

“Britain: Eastern Europe’s new guarantor?“

In an article published on July 8, the authors Richard Whitman and James Rogers compare the UK’s policy with that of the European, concluding “The British position on Russia therefore contrasts markedly with the approach of the French and German governments”, where the latter have positions which have “coalesced on the fantasy that relations with the Kremlin can be ‘normalised’

Graphic: Council on Geostrategy

Hence, the authors argue, may “the UK’s guarantor role in Eastern Europe may grow further still”. They point to raised UK military presence in Eastern Europe as the country provides the biggest number of troops to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP), support NATO’s Baltic Air policing missions and pursues advanced defense cooperation with the Ukraine through operation ORBITAL.

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Indicating that the Biden administration may “accept tradeoffs in Eastern Europe in exchange for Russian support over the PRC” the authors conclude:

“The UK ought to prepare to ‘tilt’ further towards the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea region, as well as towards the Baltic, as the new pivot point of European security. Keeping Russia out and preventing other large European countries from inviting Russia in is the key to European peace in the twenty-first century.”

Another article by Mark Galeotti, published on June 14th, discusses the mission of the HMS Defender in the Black Sea – before the incident around Crimea occurred. According to Galeotti, the British destroyer – “powerful enough that it cannot be ignored, not enough to be a threat” – has an important mission:

“HMS Defender (…) is pushing back against Moscow’s efforts to position the UK as a marginal power. It is asserting Britain’s continued status as an independent, global actor. It is helping underwrite security in the Black Sea region alongside the US and – to a sadly lesser degree – the European Union (EU). Finally, by confronting Russian attempts to claim exclusive access to swathes of the Black Sea far from its legitimate territory, it is pushing back against the pernicious ‘lawfare’ that seeks to pervert international rules for national gain.”

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