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First Black Sea Security Conference of the International Crimea Platform in Bucharest
April 14, 2023, 13:28

Day one of Black Sea Security Conference: how it was

Ways of de-occupying Crimea and the future of the temporarily occupied peninsula: results of day one of Black Sea Security Conference and experts` thoughts 

On April 12, the First Black Sea Security Conference of the International Crimea Platform started in Bucharest. The first day was held in the format of expert discussions.

The future of security in the region

During the first panel, experts of the Crimea Platform presented a vision of the future security configuration in the Black Sea region.

We have gathered experts’ opinions and expectations from the first day of the Black Sea Security Conference, which kicked off in Bucharest today.

Alina Frolova, Deputy Chairperson at the Centre for Defense Strategies, said that the conference is taking place within the framework of the Crimea Platform. Together with the Romanian side, as a Black Sea country, they prepared a two-day event-heavy conference featuring expert discussions and discussion panels with the sole purpose of developing an effective response mechanism to russia’s aggression in the Black Sea region, which poses a danger to the whole world.

“The security of the Black Sea is a highly relevant topic, because this region plays a major role in the security of the world community. russia, in almost ten years of the occupation of Crimea, turned it into a constant source of danger. Military actions, starvation threat, mining of the sea, environmental problems are the new realities of the Black Sea region. We have to use the example of the Black Sea to solve the problem of russia’s aggression and extrapolate the result on the security of the whole of Europe,” she noted.

Andriy Klymenko, Head of the Monitoring Team of the Black Sea Institute of Strategic Studies, said that for a long time, the international community hasn’t paid much attention to the Black Sea, although Ukrainian experts have repeatedly urged to consider the potential danger of russia.

“The russian federation, immediately after the occupation of Crimea, immediately relocated a large number of modern missile systems to the peninsula. Militarization of occupied Crimea was number one for the invader. According to preliminary estimates, the number of russians troops there was 50,000 people, which indicates a powerful offensive potential. Therefore, without the de-occupation of Crimea, all talks about the Black Sea security are meaningless,” the expert pointed out.

According to him, in the future, Crimea must become not only a recreation area, but also a well-protected military base, which will become a guarantee of security in the region.

Andriy Ryzhenko, Expert at the Centre for Defense Strategies, captain 1st rank in reserve, spoke about the research presented at the first panel.

“In the research, we paid special attention to bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and Romania in matters of the Black Sea security. We have long implemented the practice of joint training. And now, we see prospects for cooperation and revitalization of ports, sea transportation and development of minerals. We also covered the development of cooperation with the Baltic countries and Norway, because russia built bastions similar to temporarily occupied Crimea next to these countries as well,” the expert said.

Yevgenia Gaber, Deputy Director of Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy Of Ukraine, noted that no one will raise the issue of the Black Sea and the region security for Ukraine: “At this point, we must talk not only about how Ukraine will return its territorial integrity to the borders of 1991, but also about ensuring such a security system in the Black Sea region that will make repeated acts of aggression by russia impossible.”

Countering challenges in cyberspace

The second expert panel was devoted to modern threats in cyberspace. During the discussion entitled “The First Cyber War,” the participants of the conference talked about effective countermeasures against these kinds of challenges.

Stopping russian disinformation

The issues discussed at the conference include information warfare by the aggressor country and the threats it poses to the international security system. Experts thoroughly analyzed the toolkit and considered the most interesting cases during the past year of the full-scale war.

Olha Skrypnyk, Head of the Board of the Crimean Human Rights Group, pointed out that the aggression Ukraine is fighting today started with the temporary occupation of Crimea. According to her, Black Sea security affects the security of the entire region: “If we do not resolve the issue of the consequences of the occupation of Crimea, we should not even dream about the security in the region. During these 9 years of occupation, our peninsula became a platform for new methods of information warfare, which affects absolutely everyone, even those countries that do not participate in the conflicts. russia will try to break the system of international agreements through occupied Crimea, and we must be ready for this.”

Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics, who actively researches the phenomenon of russian propaganda and its influence on internal and external audiences, said that since 2014, after the annexation of Crimea, it has been possible to observe the russian propaganda integrated with its military component.

“We have the examples of Nazi Germany, Rwanda, and now Kiselyov, who justifies himself by saying that he “is just talking,” and there is no punishment for words. But the connection between the words calling for murder and the action — the murder itself — is very close,” Peter Pomerantsev noted.

He pointed out that russian propaganda constantly repeats the same narratives about “Ukrainian Nazis”, who allegedly commit war crimes. But in reality, the whole world sees that real crimes are hidden behind these fake slogans — the murders of people in Mariupol, the attack on Kramatorsk, Kherson, and an attempt to erase Ukrainian identity.

The world community should thoroughly research the phenomenon of russian propaganda and how it spreads around the world. Dr Rory Finnin, Associate Professor of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Cambridge made this statement during an expert discussion of russian disinformation during the Black Sea Security Conference.

“It is important to accumulate academic knowledge not only about the methods of disinformation that russia uses in Ukraine, but also about the way it spreads around the world. We must understand why their narratives are successful. Today, russian narratives regarding Crimea find support in the West, and this led to an insufficient response to the occupation in 2014,” he noted.

Dr Rory Finnin says that throughout its history, russia has used methods of propaganda and disinformation. As an example, he cited the historical fact when russian tsar Alexander the Second “cleansed” Crimea — the land of the Crimean Tatars — from the Tatars, sending them to Siberia.

Fighting at the sea, in the sky and on the ground

In addition to expert discussions, the documentary film trilogy by journalist and now military officer Artem Shevchenko called “Defense Intelligence of Ukraine: at the Sea, in the Sky, on the Ground ” was screened for the participants of the conference. Three documentary films focus on the Defense Intelligence’s participation in unique operations: fighting deep in the enemy rear to support Mariupol, the liberation of Snake Island and the Kharkiv counteroffensive.

Yevgen Soloviov, hero of Ukraine, participant in the operations to liberate Snake Island, deputy commander of the helicopter squadron and a person featured in the film, pointed out that the fight for Snake Island was of strategic importance, although every meter of Ukrainian land is crucial.”I had experience in Mariupol, but I must admit that the fight for Snake Island was much riskier. We understood these risks, but we also realized that this island is of strategic importance for Ukraine. We are ready to fight for every piece of our land, the freedom of our land, our freedom and the freedom of our children,” the pilot says.

As reported, this conference is part of the International Crimea Platform, a mechanism aimed at the de-occupation of Crimea and the restoration of the Black Sea, European and global security.

Read more: https://mediacenter.org.ua/news