The Black Sea Area within the International System: the Struggle for Influence between the United States and Russia

The context of the end of the Cold War, marked by the fall of the bipolar balance and the strengthening of direct relations between states, allowed for an unprecedented flourishing of regional integration processes. Thus, the concept of “regions” was more and more used as a theoretical tool for the analysis of international relations (Fawcett and Hurrell 1995; Lake and Morgan 1997), especially regarding localized conflicts: perceived, in the past, as the result of interplay of power, these conflicts are now revisited in the light of regional causes. Most often they oppose two states or communities inside one state and have only limited, regional spillover effects. Numerous examples illustrate this tendency, such as the Balkan or the Southern Caucasus conflicts. The “current” international system, as it has evolved over the last 20 years by favoring fragmentation in international relations and the emergence of small states, gives numerous conflicts a strictly regional scope, asking for a regional solution: this is what constitutes a fundamental break with respect to the previous system…