Libmonster ID: KZ-1590
Author(s) of the publication: Olexandr HONCHARENKO

Olexandr Honcharenko, Prof., CISSS President

* * *

The Caspian-Black Sea region is taken today on the world geopolitical map as an extremely important place, due to the presence of huge natural resources and major strategic transport corridors, the control of which will determine actually control of Euro-Asia both today and in the future.

For this reason on this region we focused geopolitical, political-military, financial- economic and other interests of main global and regional powers. From the other point of view one of major geopolitical feature of the region is growing security vacuum which potentially could endanger the security and stability of the whole Eurasia.

Is there a way to fill this security vacuum? What political forces or structures should be responsible for the future stability and security of this region?

Russia and Russia's satellites from the Collective Security Treaty?

NATO and NATO's potential members in this region?

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Regional countries and regional security structures?

In this intervention I will try to analyze the present day situation and major threats and security challenges to the region and speculate about the possible alternatives for the future including regional security structures and crisis management.

Today the internal composition of the region is quite chaotic the clear geopolitical structure is absent. Interests of the region actors are different. For a long time the region was the area of interaction and mutual penetration of various cultures and civilizations and the field of constant clash of external geopolitical formations.

Because of the long-term domination of foreign powers, the consolidated core system of the interests of the Black Sea area countries was never created. Region countries did not become considerable geopolitical powers and usually looked for the external patronage or maneuvered between various external powers that competed for domination using the natural and people resources of the region in their own interests.

By the end of the 20th century the region structure had a lot of political and economic changes. Today when the most of the regional countries face tasks of economic and social modernization, creation of the different cooperation systems is logical and corresponds to interests of the whole region. The complimentary interaction of different economic models could form new area of possibilities which are difficult to realize within the old structures. Potentially the regional cooperation and security systems could become the natural elements of the general pan-European cooperation security architecture for the years to come.

To proceed further with the analysis of security situation in the region one should start from consideration of the role and place of the major actors of the region, their interests and priorities.

Main actors of the region, their interests and priorities

The actors on the geopolitical arena of the region could be divided conditionally into three main groups: the first one is the big world powers. They are the full-fledged geopolitical subjects and they define their interests and policy in the region independently. These are USA, Russia and to a certain degree the European Union which interests to the region grows constantly. The second group is regional powers - Turkey, Ukraine, Romania and other regional countries. Most of these countries because of economic, political and other limitations today could not be recognized as full-fledged independent geopolitical actors and they have to play a role of geopolitical objects. In present day situation they should coordinate their strategies and counter-strategies with the strategies and priorities of "big actors".

The third group is international cooperation and security organizations like NATO, EU, OSCE, CIS, GUUAM, and BSEC. Their interests and actions have direct influence to the power distribution and the region processes.

The dominant players of the first

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group are USA and Russia. Their influences in the region are determined by a number of economic, political, geographic, social and cultural aspects. In spite that the GNP of Russia today is smaller than the gross income of New York State of USA the Russian influence in the region is still stronger than American one. The other principal important peculiarity of the first group of the regional actors is the fact that their interests generally are competitive and often antagonistic. Only USA, NATO and EU have to some extent complimentary interests in some spheres.

USA. Events of September 11 and their consequences (Afghanistan, Iraq etc.) drastically changed geopolitical situation in the region. As a result USA emerged as a principal and dominant actor. This actor proclaimed the region a sphere of its vital interests and attempts radically change the traditional power balance. In the new USA national security strategy presented by George W. Bush in September 2002, USA considers the Black Sea and Caspian region as a vitally important not only from the strategic oil supply and other sources point of view but also as a bridge-head of further access to the perspective markets of Pakistan, India and South-Eastern Asia.

Complex of the regional economic development problems can be regarded as a factor that has direct impact on the distribution of influence potential between USA and Russia. This situation encourages most of region countries into a more wide dialogue with USA and the West countries.

A number of oil transportation treaties signed in Istanbul severely undermined Russian influence and increased the significance of US and simultaneously Turkey in the region. The Baku-Cayman pipeline has strongly encouraged the process of Turkey rapprochement with EU. But the main consequence of the USA-Turkish version of the pipeline will be the weakening of economic and political dependence of regional countries on the Russian policy and removing Russia from control upon the transportation of the Caspian and in the future Black Sea energy resources. Today Russia enjoys almost complete monopoly on transit of the Caspian oil and gas to Europe. Recent long-term contracts with key energy producers of the region will guarantee the continuation of this monopoly for the next 15-20 years.

From the other point of view one of the results of the Iraq campaign was that assuring access to the Iraqi oil the USA in many aspects lost their interest to the pipeline Baku - Samsun - Ceyhan, which is too expensive and vulnerable. The alternative oil transportation roots going through the Caspian-Black Sea region and among them Odessa-Brody-Gdansk pipeline is the most perspective and economically profitable. It is highly possible that the third wave of NATO expansion will be to the South-East in direction Ukraine-Georgia-Azerbaijan.

The USA has certain regional advantages as compared with Russia caused by stronger economic influence on the political situation in the South Caucasus. Economic interests explain also an active role and position of Washington in the negotiations on the Karabakh conflict settlement. Washington directly links almost all economic projects in the region and in Armenia as well with the settlement of this conflict.

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One of the most important factors is the strengthening of the US military presence in the region from Afghanistan and Persian Gulf to Uzbekistan and Georgia. The US military presence already became the essential factor of the maintaining region stability, security and nonproliferation and corresponds to interests of those regional countries that have not got their own great power ambitions. However, there is no doubt that one of the long-term US goals is massive and systematic squeezing Russia out of this region, decreasing of its political, economic and military influence.

The important part of US geopolitical strategy in the region is the continuation of the policy of involvement the post-communist countries into the Euro-Atlantic structures. After adoption of three Central Europe countries (Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic) to the NATO and invitation of seven other Eastern and South-Eastern Europe countries to join Alliance, attention to the Black Sea region countries is growing.

So if in the near past Russia and some local players were the main geopolitical actors of the region, today USA and its allies is emerging as a dominant geopolitical force. This fact had changed drastically the whole balance of forces and interests in the region.

Russia. Today Russia consolidated its influence on the world policy processes and became more active in the international affairs. From the time of Peter the Great Russia has considered access to the "warm seas" and Caspian-Black Sea region particularly as the most important factor of its national security. This priority led to the numerous wars and interference into internal affaires of the regional countries. Today situation has changed greatly because the new post-soviet countries try to consolidate their independence and sovereignty and want to be out of the direct Russia's control.

The new US role, in the region, especially US active policy in the relations with Georgia and Uzbekistan, largely assists to weakening of Russia influence. Since Russian attempts to create the CIS collective security system on the basis of the Tashkent Pact (CST) were unsuccessful, Moscow tries to intensify military and political elements of CST, create Common Economic Space and new instruments to control Caspian - Black Sea region countries.

Simultaneously Russia actively attempts to spread this control over the energy resources of Central Asia and create the new levers for the influence on the Ukrainian economy and policy, push it to closer integration. Deeply disturbed by the loss of influence in the Eastern Europe and Baltic states, with American soldiers in Caucasus and American political and economic expansion in Central Asia, Moscow desperately tries not to allow Ukraine to brake out of its sphere of influence. Russia uses rapprochement with the West to neutralize US influence in the region. It understands well the US policy in the region but has not got appropriate economical and political instruments to resist it.

In this situation Russia makes persistent efforts to install a new condominium of key post-soviet states Ukraine,

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Belarus and Kazakhstan under the Russia's domination (the so-called Common Economic Area-CEA), which however considered in Moscow in the terms of Custom and Monetary Union and in fact mean the end of sovereignty of above mentioned states. But we return to this issue latter.

From the other point of view, Russia can not bear the full responsibility for the fate of the region on the whole. Settlement of the regional problems foresees the creation of the social, political and economic conditions for dynamic and stable development of regional countries, not only military and political presence or diplomatic actions. Though the total Russian hegemony in the region today is improbable it is necessary for the region countries to make every effort to protect their own national interests.

The main special priorities of Russia in the Caucasus area are: to maintain political, economic and military predominance in the region, to subordinate the foreign policy of Caucasus countries to the Russian interests and do not allow the third countries to intensify their role in this region (first of all Turkey, USA and other Western countries).

In general Russia is not interested in the creation of more or less powerful and independent from its influence regional cooperation and security substructure. At the same time Russia objectively interested in removing threats connected with the over - splitting of the local conflicts and uncontrolled organized crime.

Second group includes countries that regard regional interests as the most important and often predominant for their policy. The principally important for the second group is the fact that the countries interests and national priorities in general not contradict to each other. These countries are strongly interested in maintaining regional stability and security, sustainable development, secure functioning of transport corridors - independently from geopolitical games of the "big" actors. Just here there is a wide area of possibilities to coordinate their own national interests and national priorities that it is advantageous for all countries of above-mentioned group. That is how new forms of cooperation, alternatives and modalities of regional stability and security structures should be elaborated. Though as it has been mentioned this process is a difficult task the hope still exist that it will be successful.

The third group of actors consists of international cooperation and security organizations. These organizations are naturally interested in the region because of its huge economic and resources potential and as well as because of its strategic importance for security and stability of the whole Eurasian area.

NATO is the most important member of the third group. September 11 events initiated the process of creation the new systems of cooperation between great powers on the basis of the antiterrorist campaign. The new configuration of the international relations system changes the perspectives for the future world order.

Most of post-soviet countries of the region that got free from the SU military dictate today declare their willingness to be NATO members. In this way they try to protect their democratic changes and find their own place in the new European security architecture. NATO in return is

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interested in broadening the security and stability to the East and in the regional conflict resolution. The new NATO strategy presupposes a wide sphere of activity beyond the boarders of its traditional sphere of responsibility especially in the East.

Security challenges and regional security structures

Regional security challenges and conflicts. On the verge of centuries the Caspian- Black Sea region becomes a major zone of conflicting global interests. The tendencies intensifying now on the North Caucasus are similar to those that took place on the Balkans and caused vast and destructive conflicts. Regional conflicts in many aspects determine the logic of development of relations between other countries that include the Caucasus region in the sphere of their strategic interests. On the local level these conflicts prevent creation of close relations between Caucasus countries, hinder their full scale participation in the international institutions and cause considerable economic difficulties in the development of political and economic infrastructures.

In the Caucasus conflicts (Nahirny Karabakh, Abkhazia) Russia play the central role. Russian policy in the region has double character and subordinated to the strategic goal of the Russian political elite - consolidation of influence, installation and maintaining control over this strategically important area. The tactics used by Russia is well known after Abkhazia, South Osetia, Transistria, Crimea, and now Tuzla: in the beginning Russia stimulates the conflict, uses it in the own purposes and then plays the role of a peacemaker. At present Moscow practically annexed Abkhazia and South Osetia, continuing the colonial war in Chechnia, violated the withdrawal deadline in Moldova (with no OSCE objections), blocked the solution of the Nahirny - Karabakh conflict, increasing pressure on Georgia and Ukraine to return them to its orbit.

Problems of overcoming of most regional conflicts and threats, implementation of the regional economic development projects can be solved by creation of the new comprehensive security structures that could establish basis for cooperation in this field in the interests of all regional countries. Under existing conditions creation of regional security structures by the countries of the Caspian-Black Sea region (including NATO and the EU members) can considerably reduce the above mentioned negative tendencies and promote the acceleration of economic and social development of the region , its smooth integration in the European and Euro-Atlantic structures.

Contemporary economic and political realities demand establishment of the new form and structures on ensuring stability and security in the Caspian-Black Sea region that is very important for stable development of the whole Eurasia area. NATO and EU can not ensure fulfillment of all regional goals because a lot of the regional countries in near future will be out of their direct responsibility. On the other hand level of symmetrical and asymmetrical threats in the region is quite high, numerous regional conflicts and territorial arguments are still unresolved.

Of primary importance is that regional security structures could play a very important role in counterbalancing the current Russia efforts to collect all

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post-soviet states in a new economic and latter political union under the Russia's domination. Mentioned above decision of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan to create a Common Economic Space (CEA) with powerful common supranational structures, decisions of which are obligatory to all member states from this point of view is very threatening and dangerous.

The weighted decision power in CEA will be proportional to the economic potential of the state, so Russia will possess the 80% share holding in this condominium and enjoy control over all key decisions. This situation will lead to full Russia domination in the CEA and effectively limit the sovereignty of other member states.

This mean the gradual and progressive involvement of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the Russia's orbit in all spheres including economic and political ones and in future will inevitably return these countries under direct Moscow rule.

Let me remind you the famous words of Zb. Brzezinsky one of the leading experts in CEE problems. He said that without Ukraine Russia ceased to be an Empire, with Ukraine absorbed and subordinated Russia automatically will become the new Empire.

If this is exactly what the West wants to receive in not so distant future it could further proceed in this direction. Let me remained you again that one of the major strategic mistakes of the West after the time of Cold War was the loss of Belarus. In the early 90s Belarus did have the democratic government, desperately tried to return to Europe, but has been rejected by Europe and West of the whole. Now the West enjoys the present day very special relations with President Lukashenko and his entourage. Today the situation is repeating this time with Ukraine. In spite to of all official rhetoric about special neighborhood, EU in fact building a new iron certain on the borders of Ukraine this time from the West side.

Ukraine has been repeatedly refused even the status of associated member of the European Union and correspondingly WEU. Long-term consequences of such inconsistent policy of the West in Ukrainian case could be much more serious. In this way the West very effectively pushes Ukraine into the hot embraces of Moscow. I am not sure that this is in the best interest of the West and Western Europe in particular.

The creation of regional security sub-systems could serve as an effective counter balance to the current Moscow strategy, ensure progressive Euro-Atlantic integration of regional countries, and guarantee the stability and security of the region for the years to come.


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Olexandr HONCHARENKO, CASPIAN-BLACK SEA SECURITY CHALLENGES AND THE REGIONAL SECURITY STRUCTURES // Astana: Digital Library of Kazakhstan (BIBLIO.KZ). Updated: 08.12.2021. URL: (date of access: 25.06.2024).

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