NATO’s Black Sea Members are the Key to the Coming Fight against Russia
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already transformed the psychological-political balance in Europe, reopening the prospect of wars of conquest. However, it is poised to transform the military-political balance on NATO’s eastern flank. In brief, whether Russia succeeds in total conquest of Ukraine or settles for limited territorial goals, its Black Sea position is likely to improve. The Atlantic Alliance must therefore expect direct pressure against its Black Sea allies, Romania and Bulgaria. NATO can no longer afford a “rotational” regional presence but instead must treat the two states in a similar manner to West Germany during the Cold War. If the Baltics are the North German Plain, the Black Sea is the Fulda Gap. Both areas must be defended.
Vulnerable states on the edge of NATO’s defense perimeter are ripe for Russian pressure. Although the Kremlin lacked the pretext it desired in Ukraine, a function of excellent British and American intelligence work that publicized Russian false flags for weeks before the Ukraine War began, Russia typically looks for some sort of initial leverage to exploit. The shrinkage of Donbas’ pro-Russian separatists’ power provided that leverage. Nor should Russian domestic pressures be underestimated. The Kremlin must still “sell” a war to its people. Hence its public effort to demonize Ukraine as a “neo-Nazi state” run by “drug addicts” that committed genocide against vulnerable ethnic Russians – never mind that these same ethnic Russians the Kremlin purports to defend are fighting tooth and nail against it in Mariupol, throughout Donbas, and in Kharkiv.