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Black Sea Security Program

ARGUMENT: This program scales up and further builds upon our successful Black Sea in Access Denial Age (BSAD) project conducted in 2015-2016. The Black Sea region has become a hotspot of military build-up and escalating tensions in the past 5 years. It is a point where Western (NATO and EU) interests overlap with Eastern (Russian) and Middle-Eastern (Turkish) interests. It is a region where the likelihood of conflict is higher than anywhere else in Europe. A permanent effort of trying to make sense of what is happening on the ground is deemed necessary, one that exceeds the short attention-span of TV channels and extends far beyond putting out immediate crisis.

OBJECTIVE: The program will produce original analysis, provide high value added local insight, and conduct in-depth research and analysis meant to inform public opinion and shape public policy. The research and associated analysis is meant to offer first rate insight into regional political, economic and strategic developments, to understand the impact of Russian militarization on the region, to discuss the progress of key energy projects, analyze vulnerabilities to Russian propaganda; and monitor incidents and the general dynamic in the Black Sea region.

PROJECT: The Black Sea Security program will offer an integrated defense, political, economic and strategic analysis of current developments unfolding in the Black Sea. It will create sharp and thought provoking analysis on security, defense, economics and energy topics and organize events dedicated to select topics of interest. Thus, the program will conduct multidisciplinary research on such topics as:

  • growing anti-access bubble created by Russia’s annexation of Crimea;
  • Russia’s strategic, political and economic actions in the Black Sea;
  • NATO’s response to Russian actions;
  • developments in Turkey;
  • situation in Ukraine;
  • political, defense and economic developments in Romania, Bulgaria and/or Georgia;
  • overall periodic assessment of the regional climate.


  • Op-eds on strategic developments in the region;
  • Interviews with regional and international experts;
  • Policy briefs;
  • Issue briefs;
  • Special Reports;
  • Events.


SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES: If you would like to support the Black Sea Security Program, please contact Razvan Alexe, VP Development and Corporate Relations at razvan.alexe[at]

Black Sea Security Program Publications

The Known Unknowns of Romania’s Defense Modernization Plans

GEORGE VISAN   |   SPECIAL REPORT  |   03/07/2019   |   30 PAGES

This Special Report offers an up-to-date assessment of Romania’s ongoing defense modernization effort. The programs analyzed here belong to all three branches of the Romanian armed forces: Land forces, Air forces and Naval forces. All these programs aim to enhance capabilities in terms of armor, mobility (transport helicopters, 4×4 vehicles), firepower (artillery, anti-tank weapons, attack helicopters and small arms), logistics, communications, aerial reconnaissance, air defense, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and maritime security.

Romania’s Naval Ambitions – An analysis of current acquisition programs

GEORGE VISAN   |   SPECIAL REPORT  |   07/19/2018   |   20 PAGES

Faced with a growing Russian military threat in the Black Sea, Romania has decided to increase its defense spending and modernize is military capabilities. In 2017 Romania began an ambitious ten year re-armament program worth € 8.9 billion, part of the pledge made to its NATO partners to spend 2% of GDP on defense. This analysis takes a look at the naval refurbishment program that Romania will undertake in 2017-2026.

Romania’s Naval Forces at crossroads

GEORGE VISAN   |   POLICY PAPER  |   03/14/2017   |   22 PAGES

This paper assesses the capabilities of the Romanian Navy in light of latest military and security developments in the Black Sea. It provides an insight on the background, current shape and modernization plans for the Romanian navy and its components (the 56th Frigate Flotilla, the naval aviation capability, the 50th Corvette Squadron, the 150th Naval Missile Squadron, the 146th mine warfare squadron, Romania’s Danube flotilla, and the special ops squadron) andconcludes with recommendations for the future development of the service.

Romania’s relations with USA and Russia


The essay looks at how Romania’s relations with USA and Russia evolved since 1989 until today. Where they were at the beginning of 1990s, how they developed in the first postcommunist decade, what were its main drivers in the following decade and what is the status today. The world is now a very different place compared to 25 years ago: there is more chaos, more challenges, and less stability. The article uses a historical perspective to highlight elements of continuity and those of novelty in Romania’s post communist foreign policy.

Romanian defense and security: an in-depth perspective

GEORGE VISAN   |   RESEARCH PAPER  |   06/25/2016   |   10 PAGES

This essay deals with the security challenges faced by Romania in the near and medium term, both at regional and global level. Outside security risks can be augmented by internal vulnerabilities, therefore Romania’s security situation is assessed from the perspective of its internal political dynamic as well as that of current external threat such as the Ukrainian crisis, a resurgent Russia, the migrant crisis and combating terrorism. A special attention is given to defense issues, in particular: defense planning, strategic partnerships and defense procurement. 

Black Sea naval (im)balance

GEORGE VISAN   |   STRATEGIC RESEARCH  |   02/20/2015   |   16 PAGES

This special report approaches energy security in the Black Sea from a naval perspective, looking into Russian assertiveness as a source of regional insecurity and the fundamentally shifted balance of power in the region in the wake of the 2014 Crimean annexation. Going forward, as Russia further develops its naval power in the Black Sea, Crimea can become a base for Russia’s short range ballistic missiles or cruise missiles[1] which could be used to threaten NATO and American military installations and facilities in the region as well as critical infrastructure such as harbors, airports, airfields, oil and gas terminals and pipelines.

Black Sea enters access-denial age

OCTAVIAN MANEA   |   BRIEF  |   01/22/2015   |   5 PAGES

Power politics is back. Globally, revisionist actors have started developing access-denial systems aimed at the traditional comparative advantages of the U.S. power projection model. As a consequence, deterrence umbrellas and classical reassurance packages based on rapid reaction forces might no longer be adequate. Sooner or later, these trends will be felt in the Black Sea region which can become a no-go area for NATO presence due to an emerging A2/AD Russian bubble.