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The Black Sea: New Flashpoint

The Black Sea: New Flashpoint
The Black Sea once again figures as a potential fault line for friction between East and West, both economically and militarily, an analyst writes.

The Black Sea: Europe"s New Flashpoint.

Daniel McGroarty sums up recent ?dramatic? developments in the battle for influence over ? and under ? the Black Sea, where the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held, at Sochi, Russia, and where the seeds of the last great East-West conflict were planted, at Yalta.

To the east, Russia"s view of the Black Sea as a ?Russian lake? seems back in vogue, given its recent war against Georgia and the election of a friendly new government in Ukraine. To the west, Romania and perhaps fellow NATO members Bulgaria and Turkey will participate in the Obama administration"s revamped missile-defense program, which could include American naval deployments in the Black Sea. In response, a breakaway part of Moldova has wooed Russian missiles while Russia has bolstered its naval-landing capability in the sea with a French arms deal ? all while energy competition heats up between the two camps, including dueling Western-backed and Russian pipelines, the latter planned for the Black Sea bed.

?Pipelines criss-crossing the seabed, extraction platforms dotting the coastlines, U.S. missile defense cruisers and destroyers patrolling the surface and paying visits to ports of call, while the Russian Navy anchors at its Ukrainian rent-a-port at Sevastopol: As the decade unfolds, the Black Sea is about to become a busy place,? Mr. McGroarty writes.

He asks: ?With so many other challenges to reckon with, is the U.S. really ready for a post-Cold War tug of war in southeastern Europe??


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