By Anna J. Davidson
The Black Sea functions as a corridor body of water strategically positioned between Russia, Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, and it is increasingly populated by Russian instruments of security. The Istanbul strait to the southwest connects the Black Sea with the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, while the Kerch Strait to the north connects it with the Sea of Azov. Russia is joined by five other states bordering the Black Sea, among which are Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Of these countries, Russia has “geopolitically dominated” the Black Sea for centuries and is well versed in functioning across and within it while refraining from crossing the threshold of direct military conflict.1 Maneuvers by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, controlling navigation of the Kerch Strait, and the incorporation of Crimea into Russia mark the attractiveness of the Black Sea as a grey zone for Russian operations, where security mechanisms of the state can engage in confrontation and conflict
on the lower threshold on the spectrum of war and peace.