RUSSIAN NAVAL ACTIVITY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN: RESPONSIVE SHIFTS IN FRENCH, ITALIAN, AND SPANISH PERSPECTIVES AND POLICIES
Cole, Timothy S., II
Yost, David S.
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NATO’s southern flank has been exposed to a wide range of threats and challenges from Middle Eastern and North African instability, including terrorism, illegal trafficking, and mass migration. Against this backdrop, since 2008, Russia has increased its Mediterranean naval activity to levels not observed since the Cold War. This thesis investigates the extent to which the perceptions and policies of France, Italy, and Spain have shifted in response to Russia’s expanded Mediterranean presence. Although its naval presence was once considered a low-priority threat, Russia’s recent behavior has led to some significant changes in the perceptions and security policies of these Allies. Greater attention to this Mediterranean naval challenge has been consistent with the intensification of Russian military aggression, and these Allies increasingly share Alliance concerns about Russia’s conventional military threat. However, immediate nontraditional security issues remain a more urgent priority, a circumstance that limits the extent to which these Allies are willing to regard Russia’s naval presence as a threat. While both unilateral and multilateral initiatives have been steps toward improving security and stability in the Mediterranean, these Allies continue to seek the right set of measures needed to address this dynamic environment.
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