US plans to Increase Military Aid to Bulgaria and Support for the "Three Seas Initiative"
The United States plans to increase military aid to the countries of the Black Sea region, particularly Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Georgia. NATO is committed to increasing its presence in the region, in particular within the framework of the four new battle groups in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia. The US will support the Black Sea countries in their efforts to prevent corruption, as well as increase support for the Central and Eastern European countries' Three Seas initiative.
This is provided by the Black Sea Region Security Bill, part of a future Black Sea Security Act submitted to the US Senate and House of Representatives, where it is yet to be adopted.
Among the findings Congress makes, several stand out.
According to them, the Black Sea region is of crucial importance for the national security of six countries: Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. The Black Sea region has been an area of increasing tension and conflict on the eastern border of the European Union and NATO following President Vladimir Putin's invasions of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022. Following the illegal attempt to annex Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014, the Russian Federation has strengthened Black Sea Fleet to increase its presence in the region and threatens freedom of navigation. Russia is destabilizing the region through malign influence campaigns. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, unity among the states of the Black Sea region has strengthened, especially among NATO member states Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Russia is using the Black Sea region to conduct military exercises that threaten Ukraine's territorial sovereignty and kill innocent civilians. Russia has a long history of using its position in the Black Sea and Crimea to threaten NATO allies. The United States' presence in the Black Sea has declined since Russia's annexation of Crimea due to a lack of available ships and resources and a lack of a clearly defined regional strategy.
The main conclusion is that Russia is trying to take advantage of the sometimes diverging priorities of NATO members in the region to make expansionist claims.
In general, the Russian Federation's unprovoked war against Ukraine has highlighted the importance of the Black Sea region to the national security interests of the United States, the bill emphasizes. Russia's actions in and around the Black Sea have disrupted access to energy resources across Europe.
“In particular, on April 27, 2022, Gazprom suspended natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after the two countries refused to comply with the Russian decree of March 31, 2022 that all payments be made in rubles, in violation of the terms of their contracts with Gazprom”, the text says.
Regarding Turkey, the findings are that it resists attempts to change the interpretation of the Montreux Convention in order not to weaken its positions in the region.
China is also emerging as a threat to the Black Sea region.
"The coercive economic policy of the People's Republic of China (PRC) also threatens the economic stability of the Black Sea region," the document also claims.
Congress believes it is in the interest of the United States to prevent the spread of further armed conflict in Europe by recognizing the Black Sea region as an arena of Russian aggression, and the littoral members of the Black Sea are critical to countering Russian government aggression and to maintain the collective security of the NATO Alliance. The United States should continue to work within NATO to develop a long-term strategy to enhance security and establish a permanent and sustainable presence on the eastern flank.
It also recommends restoring trust and bilateral relations with Turkey, which is a "key ally in the Black Sea region and a bulwark against Iran."
The countries in the Black Sea region should work to improve communication and exchange of intelligence information and increase cyber defense capabilities.
"The United States should support the initiative taken by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to advance the Three Seas Initiative Fund to strengthen the connectivity of transportation, energy, and digital infrastructure in the Adriatic, Baltic, and Black Sea region ,” the text of the congressional recommendations states.
Countering the coercive economic aspirations of the PRC remains an important political imperative in order to further integrate the Black Sea states into Western economies and improve regional stability.
Among the top priorities are military assistance, including infrastructure to support increased deployment and supply logistics in the region; economic assistance, including support for the food security crisis; countering Russian disinformation and propaganda in the Black Sea region; energy diversification and integration of regional markets and supplies; increasing bilateral trade and US investment in the region; increasing access to global capital markets; strengthening efforts for the rule of law and fighting corruption; an assessment of NATO's engagement in the region, particularly that within the four new battlegroups in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia.
Among the stated future US policies regarding the region are establishing a permanent, sustainable presence on the eastern flank and strengthening the democratic resilience of allies there, increasing investment in the countries of the Black Sea region, the US will support the Black Sea countries in efforts to prevent corruption, and the "Three Seas" initiative of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
Among the main strategies for the security and development of the Black Sea is that of increasing military aid to the countries of the Black Sea region, in particular to Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia.
The creation of a joint, multinational headquarters in the Black Sea, which would be responsible for the planning, readiness, exercises and coordination of all military activities in the region, is also being considered.
Efforts will also be made for greater freedom of navigation, primarily with Turkey, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria, to enable greater security and economic access to the Black Sea.
High-level representatives of the Department of State or other partner agencies will be sent to the Black Sea region no less than twice a year, as well as to the main regional forums for infrastructure and energy security, including the High-Level Meeting on the Three Seas Initiative.
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