The Black Sea risks being divided by Russia and Turkey

The Black Sea risks being divided by Russia and Turkey

Turbulence is intensifying in the Black Sea without the NATO states on the Pontic coast having a common strategy. Romania is the only stable and aligned military objective against Russia, while Bulgaria is drifting, and Turkey is negotiating its position with Russia beyond the mediation of grain transport from Ukraine.

In this area, everything that could be postponed until now should become urgent for NATO and for the United States. A first step for the security of the western Black Sea would be the establishment of a permanent American base in Romania, an idea advanced since the presidency of Traian Băsescu and resumed through diplomatic channels after the start of the war.

In this sense, Bucharest is ready to pay, following the Warsaw model, for a permanent presence of the American military on the territory of the country, but for now everything remains at the level of groping. From Romania, the allies can monitor all the movements of the Russian Fleet in the Black Sea, if they bring sufficiently sophisticated military equipment.

The question is whether there is sufficient confidence in Bucharest’s determination to remain within the parameters of democratic stability and the maintenance of the Atlantic azimuth. If this trust exists, NATO military bases in Romania could receive new defensive equipment, including anti-drone capabilities, and possibly open their doors to training Ukrainian soldiers.

Putin and Erdogan have strengthened relations between Russia and Turkey

But if this trust does not exist due to Bucharest’s ambiguities, then the Black Sea risks remaining a lake divided between Russia and Turkey, according to the interests of the two regional powers. Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met twice in less than a month: in Tehran, in the presence of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who promised him support in the war with Ukraine, and then, in Sochi, in Putin’s summer capital .

Sochi is on the shore of the Black Sea in a space that was once controlled by the Ottoman Empire, and last week’s visit by Erdogan to Putin’s house also has a symbolic substratum. The two autocrats need each other to survive the coming plague:

Thus, Erdogan is preparing for difficult elections next year, when Turkey, in a deep economic crisis, celebrates one hundred years since the establishment of the republic, and Putin, isolated from the Western world, needs allies who recognize his power and to help him in the war with Ukraine.

In short, Russia is committed to continuing to supply Turkey with the gas it needs plus what is needed to reach Europe and will commission the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, which will cover 10% of the country’s electricity needs, next year . For its part, Turkey will pay for gas in rubles, as several European countries do, and five major banks in Turkey will adopt the Russian payment system, after Visa and Mastercard cut ties with Russia. All these are the small privileges established in Sochi, but which reconfigure Moscow’s aura of regional power.

In the Putin-Erdogan negotiations, Iraq and Syria were targeted

Within these discussions, there are likely to be other arrangements quietly assumed, such as that Ankara will keep air routes open for Russian planes. It is not clear whether the discussions also touched on the strategic interests targeted by Moscow. Erdogan said after his return from Tehran that Putin had asked him to sell him the flagship Bayraktar drones that had helped the Ukrainians so much. The Turkish president has avoided a public response, but his son-in-law, who co-owns the production company, has vowed not to sell anything to the Russians.

During the four hours they spoke in Sochi, Putin and Erdogan had time to negotiate the overlapping areas where they intersect, from Iraq and Syria to the Balkans, crossing the Black Sea. The two have a lot of room for maneuver and similar expansion tendencies. Basically, Turkey has the invasion of Northern Cyprus in 1974 and the permanent violation of Greek and Cypriot territorial waters, where it continues to prospect in an area that does not belong to it.

Ankara and Moscow plan to divide the Black Sea into spheres of influence

Turkey is in NATO, but often plays by its own rules, quite similar to Russia’s. So it is not excluded that Ankara and Moscow intend to share their influence in the Black Sea by excluding competition and suspending their historical rivalry. Everything would be in favor of Russia, if the West does not intervene.

And the war in Ukraine is about to change its course to the advantage of Kiev, at a time when the Americans are worried about the abrupt movements of China, and the Europeans are afraid of a too hard winter and the political crises that follow each other. At the Black Sea, Turkey continues its ambiguities, in Bulgaria the president Rumen Radev, general and former commander of the Air Force, is doing pirouettes with the interim government to return to a more friendly policy towards Russia, and Romania seems to be losing its breath in internal excesses , writes Deutsche Welle.