Centre for Defence Strategies

Russia’s occupation of the Crimean Peninsula has become a challenge to the European security system. Russia gained full access to the Black Sea, which it lacked in its post-Soviet statehood up until 2014. Just as Russian Czar Peter the First gained a ‘window to Europe’ for the Russian Empire through the Baltics, Vladimir Putin opened the doors of the Russian Federation to the Mediterranean, one of the key geopolitical arenas in the 21st century.

Current geopolitical trends indicate the fragmentation of international relations, and thus reinforce the importance of regional cooperation. To prevent Russia’s transformation of the Black Sea into a ‘Russian lake’, to compensate for the American turn towards China and to account for the indirect effects of the Afghan crisis- the regional countries and NATO must create strategic conditions for cooperation and evolution of the favorable security landscape in the region.

As argued in this research, the ultimate global goal of today’s civilized world should be to prevent precedents of aggressive behavior and violation of international law. The policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea is only part of the deterrence. Prevention of violations of international law, immediate response to incidents provoked not only by Russia but also by other actors who are inspired by the aggressor’s behavior, should become part of a joint strategy of the world’s leading democracies where states are equal not by size, military, or economic power.