The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation on Thursday convened a hearing on “Assessing the Department of State’s Strategy for Security in the Black Sea region.”
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who chaired the hearing, said the Black Sea region has always been an area of interest, “a critical area of focus for Vladimir Putin as he pursues his aggressive agenda and revisionist history.”
“Georgia, of course, was the first target of Putin’s revanchist policies in the region. But sadly, not his last. The Black Sea region has been a critical area of focus for Vladimir Putin as he pursues his aggressive agenda and revisionist history. This map, which hopefully you can see behind me, shows precisely why this hearing and our efforts to focus on the Black Sea region are so important.
In 2008, Putin annexed South Ossetia and Abkhazia because Georgia was moving toward democracy. In 2014, he illegally annexed Crimea when Ukrainians made their voices clear and supported EU membership. And in 2020, Putin further invaded Ukraine when he realized that his bullying tactics would not work. The Black Sea is critical because Putin sees it in his orbit. Some refer to it as his lake. He sees it historically and strategically as an important part of his empire.
But the Black Sea is also home to three NATO nations and two aspirant countries. For them, the Black Sea is a critical economic connector, and when Russia’s behaviour goes unchecked, it has implications for their security and for their economies,” she stated.