Bulgaria, U.S. Bases and Black Sea Geopolitics
W. Alejandro Sanchez writes in Power and Interest News Report:
The USS Forest Sherman, a guided missile destroyer of the Sixth Fleet, visited the Bulgarian port of Varna in early August and carried out joint naval exercises with the Bulgarian navy. This event would normally be seen as routine. However, the announcement of an American troop deployment to a number of Bulgarian military facilities (as well as in Romania) has raised concerns in two traditional hegemons of the Black Sea region: the Russian Federation and Turkey.
The developing security relations between Washington and Sofia, therefore, add a new dimension to the routine visit of the American destroyer, as it signifies the United States’ “arrival” in the Black Sea.
…The size of Bulgaria’s military is not the reason for Washington’s interest in befriending that Slavic country. Geographically speaking, Bulgaria provides the U.S. (and N.A.T.O.) a greater presence in the Black Sea, through which there are plans to build oil and gas pipelines. Also, it is close to the former Yugoslavia, a place of constant tensions, particularly in the last decade. More importantly, the Balkans are a transit zone for illegal narcotics into Europe. In addition, it is relatively close to countries of the Caucasus, like Georgia, an ever-more important friend of the United States.
The bases allow the U.S. to keep increased control of the country and the Greater Middle East region, as Washington now has a military presence in the south (America’s 5th fleet is based in Bahrain) and will have a presence in the north through nearby Bulgaria.