HF Fellows and Alumni Discuss Future of Ukraine at Black Sea Security Forum in Odessa

by | Jun 24, 2024 | News

Over 300 attendees, including global leaders, military and parliamentary officials, security experts, media representatives, and civil society leaders, convened in Odessa from June 14-16 to deliberate on the security situation in the Black Sea region. HF Board Member Ambassador Kurt Volker, along with HF Fellows and alumni George Bogden, Mónika Palotai and Kristóf Veres took part in the discussions, which were marked by air raids and visible evidence of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Distinguished speakers at the event included HF Board Member and Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations (2017-2019) Kurt Volker, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, British army officer Colonel Richard Justin Kemp, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink.

During a panel moderated by HF Fellow Mónika Palotai titled “A Dive in the Black Sea for Trump: Post-Election Speculations and Implications,” speakers Troup Hemenway from the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, Oleksandr Merezhko, a Member of the Parliament of Ukraine, HF Alumnus George Bogden of Columbia Law, and Michael C. Ryan, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO policy, discussed how the presidential election might impact the situation in Ukraine and the consequences of the war for the current geopolitical landscape. The panel delved into questions about each presidential candidate’s strategy regarding Ukraine and the U.S. role in it, as well as whether Ukraine is viewed as a pawn or a main asset in the U.S. elections.

George Bogden highlighted the Biden administration’s current policy on Ukraine lacks clarity and vision. All speakers agreed that a more comprehensive “Ukraine strategy” is needed to end the war, which the current administration seems to be lacking. Read a more in depth recap of the panel here.

Kristóf Veres chaired a panel entitled “From the Varangians to the Greeks: The Revival of the Baltic-Black Sea Union”. The panel discussion centered on the region situated between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, delving into topics such as the role of NATO in regional security, the potential for Ukraine’s future EU membership, and the growing significance of regional collaborations like the Three Seas Initiative in ensuring security and prosperity in the area. Robert Hamilton (Foreign Policy Research Institute) emphasized the critical importance of the Black Sea Region, which had long been marginalized in American strategic thinking. The panelists collectively stressed the essential nature of positive feedback in the accession process.

The forum’s main goal was to create an annual international gathering to address security issues in the Black Sea region, currently the primary area for intense geopolitical confrontation in Europe. Watch the panels here:

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