The Black Sea region is an important part of Russia’s energy, trade, and security needs. It is a warm water gateway to Europe and a crucial energy transit corridor. It also happens to be one of the world’s most sensitive environments. So, why is the Black Sea so important? Let’s explore some of the key reasons for its importance and how you can protect it. Hopefully, you’ll find this information helpful.
A region for energy, trade, security, and economic reasons
The Black Sea is an important location for the Russian Federation for a variety of reasons, including energy trade and energy security. The Black Sea is also an important place for the Russian military, which uses many of its bases in the region to stage operations, including those in neighboring Syria and Ukraine. However, the main focus of Russia’s Black Sea presence is the illegal occupation of Crimea. Following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Kremlin-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, was forced out by popular protests. On the pretext of protecting Russian citizens, Russian forces invaded Crimea and occupied the region.
Russia depends on the Black Sea region for energy and trade, but it also sees it as an important part of its geopolitical strategy. Moscow wants to project its power into the Mediterranean and protect its economic connections with key European markets. This area also gives Russia leverage over Central Asia, which is dependent on Russian oil for much of its industrial output. Consequently, Russia is investing heavily in new infrastructure to protect its black sea trade corridor, and it’s also building alternative routes to skirt Ukraine.
While Bulgaria and Poland have ample amounts of natural gas, the action of Russia demonstrates the perils of European dependence on Moscow for energy. Consequently, the European Union has been pressured by Zelensky to break economic ties with Russia because of its role in threatening European security. The European Union should be cautious in its policy decisions regarding this matter. But what should it do?
While Russia has a large military presence in the Black Sea, other countries in the region also have to protect their interests in the region. These challenges include anti-access and area-denial capabilities, which Russia relies on for its trade and energy security. Fortunately, there are some steps the U.S. and NATO can take to protect this important area. By taking a leadership role in the Black Sea region, it can help the Black Sea receive the attention it deserves.
It’s a warm water gateway to Europe
Russia’s interest in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean is complex and influenced by several factors, including geopolitics. Historically, Russia has seen these waters as strategic oases where it can project its power and influence throughout the Mediterranean. It also wants to protect its economic ties with key European markets by making southern Europe more dependent on Russian oil. In addition, Russia is aware of the threat posed by instability in the Middle East. Taking this into consideration, Russia sees the Black Sea and Mediterranean region as important security buffers between Europe and Russia.
The Black Sea was a busy waterway in the ancient world, connecting the Balkans with Central Asia. Ancient civilizations sailed the Black Sea. The Greeks, Persians, and Cimmerians used it as a stepping stone to their empires. The Black Sea was also a vital naval theater during World Wars I and II. However, it is now known as a peaceful sea gateway to Europe.
The circulation of the Black Sea is cyclonic. The waters surrounding the Black Sea basin circulate in a basin-wide cyclonic shelfbreak gyre, known as the Rim Current. Two smaller cyclonic gyres operate in the western and eastern sectors of the basin. The water circulation in the basin is influenced by numerous, quasi-permanent coastal eddies induced by “wind curl” mechanisms. The intensity of these eddies fluctuates seasonally, and interannual variability is also noted.
The Black Sea is a natural inland sea in Europe, bordered by Georgia, Turkey, and southeastern Europe. It is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Bosporus strait and the Aegean Sea via the Dardanelles. In addition, the Black Sea is a “hot spot” for emerald fish, making it a popular destination for European tourists and visitors.
With Russia’s intrusion in Ukraine, the U.S. has increased its presence in the Black Sea. Last year, U.S. Navy forces spent 203 days in the sea, and in 2014, the Black Sea alone occupied 422,000 square miles. In February 2017, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg pledged to increase its presence in the Black Sea. This action could help the Black Sea get the attention it deserves.
It’s a major energy transit corridor
The Black Sea is a vital energy transit corridor, but the security environment around it is creating risks for energy supplies. The increasing reliance on natural gas from Russia and the increasingly dangerous environment for energy storage and transportation have prompted Europe’s energy-consuming countries to take action to protect their own interests. The Crimea Platform, an international advocacy organization launched last month in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, has focused on bringing international attention to the illegal seizure of the Crimea peninsula by Russia and the human rights abuses committed by the occupying authorities.
Russia has boosted its energy-trading activities in the Black Sea, which straddles Russia and Europe. With control of the Bosphorus Strait, Turkey has gained power over both Russia and Ukraine, making it a vital hub for energy transit. Nevertheless, the Black Sea region faces a number of other challenges as well. Here are some of them:
Energy security is a concern for all of Europe, but the region is particularly vulnerable to the risk of terrorism. The Black Sea is also an important transit route for oil and natural gas, and its proximity to large proven reserves of both commodities makes it a vital source of energy for the EU. In addition, the Black Sea is an emerging Eurasian energy axis, and thus an important factor in EU energy security.
The geopolitical importance of the region is another important factor. Russia seeks to project its power in the Mediterranean while simultaneously protecting its economic links to key European markets. It is also conscious of the threat of Middle Eastern instability flowing into its territory. This is why it views the Black Sea as a key security buffer zone. In addition to protecting its energy transit corridor, Russia is also investing in building new infrastructure to ensure its continued presence in the region.
It’s a sensitive environment
The Convention requires contracting parties to take all necessary measures to prevent, minimize, and control pollution in the Black Sea. The Convention identifies land-based sources of pollution, including rivers, canals, coastal establishments, and other artificial structures, as well as discharges from ships. The fresh water limit is defined as the landward part of the line drawn between the right and left banks of a watercourse. Any discharge of pollutants into the Black Sea must be reported to the relevant governmental authority to prevent further harm to the environment.
In the Black Sea, 90% of its volume is anoxic. Only a small amount of oxygen-rich surface water interacts with the deep water, limiting the diversity of organisms living there. This limited interaction has resulted in changes to the ecosystem, which affect the marine biodiversity and economic activities in the region. In fact, in the past 30 years, only a small number of new species have been introduced to the Black Sea due to illegal fishing.
The wider Black Sea region is becoming increasingly important for energy production and transportation. It serves as a transit route for major oil exports. However, oil spills are a threat to the ecosystem in the Black Sea. Around 50 000 ships and 10 thousand oil tankers pass through the Bosphorus every year. Several Black Sea ports also serve as terminals for oil pipelines from the Caspian Sea. Further increase in energy transport operations will place further pressure on an already fragile ecosystem.
Despite the high level of human activity, the ecosystem in the Black Sea has been subjected to intense scrutiny and has been affected by anthropogenic impacts. Overfishing, unplanned coastal development, and heavy maritime traffic have all contributed to the decline of marine resources and ecosystems in the region. Meanwhile, anthropogenic activities threaten unique terrestrial ecosystems in the region. There are currently several efforts underway to protect and restore the Black Sea ecosystem.
The Commission on Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution and the Danube River Convention were signed in 1995. They include the European Commission, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, the Organization of the Black Sea, and the UNEP. The Commission also has a Permanent Secretariat. This intergovernmental body is charged with monitoring and implementing the Budapest Convention and the Protocols. These international organizations also support the implementation of the Black Sea Commission and its Strategic Action Plan for Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation.