• Ukraine: What to Expect in 2018

    One should not have wild expectations for Ukraine this year. Although the country is more than a year away from the March 2019 presidential election, structural reforms won’t be a focus, international donors are getting impatient, and a large amount of debt is coming due.  

    What should we expect and follow in Ukraine this year? How will the presidential campaign affect politics in 2018? Can the country repay its debt to avoid default? What might the war in the Donbas bring? We have identified the major developments we expect to shape 2018 and divided them into five categories: security, politics, foreign partners and reforms, economy, and culture, sport, and technology.

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  • Bechev in Ahval: Bulgaria’s EU Presidency is Good News for Turkey

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  • Private Sector Support Sought for Three Seas Initiative

    US President Donald J. Trump has provided “valuable” support to the Three Seas Initiative, but he can go further by encouraging US businesses to participate in the plan that seeks to improve trade, infrastructure, and energy links among the twelve nations between the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic Seas, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said at the Atlantic Council’s Global Forum in Warsaw on July 7.

    “What President Trump can do is to encourage American businesses to look at the initiative more closely and to participate in the initiative,” said Grabar-Kitarović who, together with Polish President Andrzej Duda, launched the Three Seas Initiative in 2016.

    Grabar-Kitarović participated in a panel discussion with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid. Atlantic Council President and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Kempe moderated the discussion.

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  • Do Bulgaria’s Historical Russian Ties Spell Trouble for NATO and the Black Sea Region?

    The November election of Rumen Radev as president of Bulgaria has contributed to growing concerns that several former Soviet satellite states are drifting back into the orbit of Putin’s Russia.
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  • Bechev in EUROPP: Election reaction: The Status Quo Wins in Bulgaria

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  • Will Bulgaria Tilt Toward Russia?

    Bulgaria’s orientation toward Russia, and the renewed awareness of this shift, has become a major political issue in its presidential elections. While neither of the leading candidates has directly disputed Bulgaria’s membership in NATO and the European Union (EU), they have both argued that the EU should lift the sanctions imposed on Russia for annexing Crimea in March of 2014.

    Tsetska Tsacheva, the candidate from Bulgaria’s ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party, is likely to move away from this firm pro-Russian course just to set herself apart from her Socialist Party opponent, Gen. Rumen Radev, ahead of the November 13 runoff election.

    The takeaway, however, is clear: Bulgaria is reconsidering its allegiance to the West and is trying to execute a precarious balancing act.

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  • Romania and Bulgaria to Host Greater NATO Presence in the Black Sea Region

    NATO member state officials meeting in Brussels agreed to boost the alliance’s military presence along its entire eastern flank from Bulgaria to the Baltics.
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  • Memo to NATO: Wake Up Before Putin Turns the Black Sea into a Russian Lake

    By invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin has transformed the security situation in the Black Sea.

    Upon capturing those territories, Moscow lost no time in seizing Ukrainian energy facilities in the Black Sea and accelerating its ongoing military modernization there. As a result, Moscow has built a combined arms force of land, sea, air, and electronic forces that NATO leaders admit is fully capable of denying access to NATO forces seeking to enter the Black Sea during a conflict. It has also deployed nuclear-capable weapons to the Black Sea area and is apparently building a similar network of anti-access area denial (A2/AD) capabilities against NATO in both the eastern Mediterranean around Syria and in the Caucasus.

    Thus, as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has noted, Russia is well on its way to converting the Black Sea into a Russian lake, an outcome that endangers the security of all the states along the sea’s edges....

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  • Romania Wants Permanent NATO Black Sea Force

    From Transitions Online: At NATO's July summit, Bucharest will propose that a regular multinational naval force patrol the area.
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  • Russia Could Block Access to Baltic Sea, US General Says

    From Marcus Weisgerber, Defense One:  Russia has moved ballistic missiles to and conducted nuclear strike drills from its Kaliningrad exclave, prompting Pentagon fears that Moscow could block access to the Baltic Sea.
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