The New Strategy Center publishes the September edition of our monthly newsletter, where we assess the most relevant information and events in or impacting the Black Sea and Balkan region.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has been marked this month by repeated attacks by Moscow on ports in the Odessa region, especially those on the Danube, and by Kyiv’s shelling of the occupied Crimean peninsula, especially targets in Sevastopol. Attacks on Odessa have inevitably led to the appearance of downed drones on both Romanian and Bulgarian territory. On the front, Ukraine has seen advances near Bahmut and in the Zaporizhzhya region towards Melitopol.
As for the Ukrainian grain situation, its export is constantly declining, and Turkish President Erdogan’s efforts to negotiate with Putin on the resumption of the Black Sea grain agreement have been in vain. There have also been disputes between Ukraine and its Central and Eastern European allies over the European Commission’s lifting of the ban on Ukrainian grain imports. Although Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia have been actively discussing and debating compromise options with Ukraine, Poland and Hungary have maintained their ban, leading to a brief declaration dispute between Warsaw and Kyiv.
In Russia, the recruitment of new soldiers, especially foreigners from Central Asia, is intensifying, but the idea of a new mobilisation is currently ruled out.
On the energy front, Russia is managing to circumvent the G7 price cap on crude oil by simultaneously halting diesel and petrol exports and resuming LPG exports through Crimea. Externally, Russia is trying to step up its arms transfers and production, as revealed by meetings between Kremlin officials and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and later with officials in Tehran and Beijing. In the context of Azerbaijan’s offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, several Russian ‘peacekeepers’ have been killed, with Moscow’s weak response to the whole conflict raising questions for Armenia about future bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
Official visits to the Republic of Moldova were paid by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană and French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu.
The Balkans region was marked by a new ethnic conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, following an armed attack in Banjska that left four people dead. Kosovo officials suspect the involvement of an ethnic Serb party in Kosovo in the attack, blaming Belgrade for the incident. In parallel, Bulgaria has been dealing with Russia’s violation of its exclusive economic space in the Black Sea and a drone with an explosive charge found in the coastal town of Tyulenovo.