Black Sea Security Forum 2022: Debates and analysis of the war in Ukraine in Romania

Future battlefields. Adapt and innovate in the context of next generation warfare. A politico-military perspective

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Bucharest hosted the sixth edition of the international conference on September 2 and 3Black Sea and Balkan Security Forum, an event that has become a tradition in the region. The conference is organized by the New Strategy Center, a leading Romanian think tank in the field of security and foreign affairs, and took place in excellent conditions at the University of Agronomic Sciences in Bucharest.

The conference brought together experts, officials, representatives from academia and business, and the media in a series of debates that addressed the most pressing security issues in the Black Sea and Balkan regions. This emblematic annual event was organized by the New Strategy Center, in partnership with the University of Agronomic Sciences of Bucharest, and in institutional partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense of Romania and benefited from the support of the Public NATO Diplomatic Division, as in all previous editions.

Nicolae Ciuca, Prime Minister of Romania

Photo. New strategy center

Today more than ever, the Black Sea region has become the center of interest of the whole world. As Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă said in his speech during the opening panel of the event,“The Black Sea region is now becoming a bigger issue than ever, not only in the classic military and security sense, but especially from a broader geopolitical perspective.” He went on to note that“This has implications on multiple levels: security, energy, supply chain security, infrastructure, interconnectivity, cybersecurity”. All of these questions were explored in depth during the 21 panels of the two-day forum. The topics of discussion ranged from the unprovoked and unjustified aggression of the Russian Federation against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, to the consequences of the war in all regions of the world, to the prospects of the world economy in the short and medium term, opportunities for development and regional cooperation, diversification and green transition in the energy sector, supply chains, food security and climate change, strategic infrastructure and military mobility as well as the impact of new military technologies.

TheBlack Sea and Balkan Security Forum has evolved over the years into a landmark event and one of the most important discussion platforms in the region, where free exchanges of views take place on the most pressing issues of national security, defense and foreign politic. This year’s edition brought together 106 speakers from 21 countries – EU and NATO member states as well as partner countries.

Bogdan Aurescu, Romanian Minister for Foreign Affairs

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Among the participants were the Romanian Prime Minister Niwcolae Ciucă, as well as the Romanian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Energy and Education, and that of Research and Digitization, namely Bogdan Aurescu, Vasile Dîncu, Virgil Popescu and Sorin Cîmpeanu, Sebastian Burduja as well as important figures in the field of defense such as the Romanian Chief of Defense Staff, Daniel Petrescu, as well as the heads of the land, air and naval officers, MG Iulian Berdilă, LTG Viorel Pană and Rear Admiral Mihai Panait.

The event also hosted a diverse list of over 100 speakers from various fields and countries, including Sir Stuart Paeach, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, UK, LTG (Ret.) Ben Hodges, former Commander of US Army Europe, US, MG John Mead, Deputy Chief of Staff – Plans, JFC Naples, NATO, Ambassador (Retired) Victor Jackovich, First US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, MG Pierre-Joseph Givre, Director of Doctrine and Command Education Center, Land Forces, France, Justin Crump, Analyst, CEO Sibylline Ltd, President of the Association of International Risk Intelligence Professionals (AIRIP), United Kingdom, M Fabien Zamora, journalist, Agence France-Presse, France, Mr. Adam Eberhardt, Director of the Center for Oriental Studies (OSW), Poland. Ambassador (retired) Tacan Ildem, President, The Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, Turkey, as well as a large group of Ukrainian participants, such as Mr. Mykhailo Samus, Director, New Geopolitics Research Network, and Ms. Oleksandra Tsekhanovska, Head of the Hybrid Warfare Analytical Group, Ukraine Crisis Media Center – some of them present in Bucharest, while others participate via video messages, such as the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikovor by participating online.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksyi Reznikov

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One of the panels that enjoyed a large audience was the one titled
Lessons learned from the war in Ukraine in terms of strategic communication.**
Weaponized Narratives and the Effects of Disinformation** . The panel was moderated by Radu Tudor, Roma military analyst and journalist at Antena 3 Romania. He was joined by Dan Cărbunaru, Spokesperson, Government of Romania, Fabien Zamora, Agence France-Presse, Andrei Țărnea, Director General, Communication and Public Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Romania, Jacek Dankowski, Cooperation Coordinator International, Defense24 Poland, Brigadier General Constantin Spînu, Head of Public Relations Department, Ministry of National Defence, Romania and Krševan Antun Dujmović, Senior Associate, Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO), Croatia.

A panel on disinformation during the Forum

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During the panel, experts analyzed the lessons learned from the first months of the war in Ukraine in terms of strategic communication, focusing on the narratives disseminated online and the effects of misinformation. The speakers presented some practical aspects regarding the fight against disinformation, identifying its different forms and its main sources, from the point of view of public institutions, as well as the mass media. The phenomenon of fake news appears in the context of fundamental ideological fractures in society that produce a competition between different antithetical, incongruous narratives. The Russian Federation is at the origin of these fractures, taking advantage of them through its actions of disinformation. Moscow is thus strengthening its capacity for soft power in its relationship with the West, focusing in particular on stories linked to the economy, energy, but also certain cultural aspects. A Western response should be based on including the private sector, media and civil society in anti-disinformation campaigns.

All debates were open to the public and the media and can be viewed at the following links: DAY 1 – DAY 2 . For a brief overview of each panel, you can access the official New Strategy Center website: DAY 1 – DAY 2. More information about the event and the speakers can be found on the event website at: (https://2bsecurityforum.ro/)

On the sidelines of the security forum, New Strategy Center also organized the book launch of the Romanian edition of the volumeThe future war and the defense of Europewritten by renowned American experts in security and international relations, General (Retired) John R. Allen and Lieutenant General (Retired) Ben Hodges, in collaboration with British Professor Julian Lindley-French.

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A timely analysis of the new strategic reality, the book integrates elements of history, strategy, politics and technology, presenting a series of possible scenarios designed to spark moments of reflection on how the defense of Europe is structured, as well as on the transatlantic relationship, with its ever-changing dynamics. At the book launch, Lt. Gen. (Retired) Ben Hodges said, “What we see today in Ukraine is an example of what happens when deterrence policies fail.”

“The Future War and the Defense of Europe” has appeared in English and German, and is now published in Romanian by the Military Publishing House, on the initiative of the Center for New Strategy, within the framework of our efforts to contribute to the growth of the security culture at the national level and to a better understanding of the security context in which we find ourselves.

Photo. New strategy center

As the authors argue, understanding the different ways in which the security environment might evolve is key to being able to formulate an appropriate and targeted long-term defense policy.

New Strategy Center is a Romanian think tank founded in 2015, which operates in the field of international relations, security and defence. It organizes various events and publishes specialized studies, in particular to promote the strategic importance of the Black Sea region and the Balkan region. Details of NSC activity can be found by accessing: https://www.newsstrategycenter.ro/home/

About Eleanor Blackburn

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