Geopolitics of the Black Sea Region (BSR) and Russia-NATO Strategic Game: India's Policy Options

The Black Sea Geopolitics is becoming murkier over the years because of its location, historical factors, along with competitive geopolitics involving member countries of this region and the NATO representing the West. Though Cold War geopolitics disappeared, the maritime claims by contesting powers of the region along with the Crimea crisis of 2014 accentuated this region's geopolitical crisis.

Geopolitics of the Black Sea Region (BSR) and Russia-NATO Strategic Game: India's Policy Options

Policy Paper

By Nalin Kumar Mohapatra 

Abstract

The Black Sea Geopolitics is becoming murkier over the years because of its location, historical factors, along with competitive geopolitics involving member countries of this region and the NATO representing the West. Though Cold War geopolitics disappeared, the maritime claims by contesting powers of the region along with the Crimea crisis of 2014 accentuated this region's geopolitical crisis. However, the tenuous security of this region is also propelling countries like Georgia and Ukraine to get assistance from NATO to checkmate Russia. Along with some of these developments, the Black Sea is also shaping its geopolitical dynamics because of its resources like energy and as a connecting route for Caspian energy. Being a major Indo-Pacific power, India is slowly making an inroad into this region. What is interesting to note here is that along with Russia, India is also strengthening its relations with Georgia along with other littoral countries like Bulgaria, Romania in recent years. This is a positive move as Black Sea Region can provide a base to India to fruition greater strategic partnership with other post-Soviet countries and the European Union.

Introduction

The intrusion of the Royal Naval Force of Britain into the Black Sea nearer to the strategic significant Crimean coast of Russia (which the British navy denied) in May 2021 resulted in the escalation of the conflict between Great Britain and Russia. Subsequently, the Russian naval force carried out a swift action and expelled the British Royal navy from the Black Sea Coast. Though this is a minor incident but got much attention in the international media because of the lingering Ukrainian crisis in which both the Western forces under the aegis of NATO and Russia are on the opposite side. Similarly, in the same month in 2021, the NATO troops conducted massive military exercises, “Steadfast Defender 2021”, to sternly warn Russia. Analysts have a sense of apprehension regarding strategic developments in the Black Sea region, especially in the backdrop of Russo-Ukrainian fissures. However, there is a need to study the significance of this Sea in the strategic lexicon of the geopolitics of Eurasia to which Russia traditionally considered as its “natural spheres of influence.” This Sea is gaining more prominence, especially after the Crimean crisis of 2014 and the growing rift between Russia and Ukraine. Thus, the Crimean incident, along with strategic competition between Russia and the West led by NATO, creates a new geopolitical cauldron in this Region.

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