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Burden-Sharing, Geopolitics, and Strategy in NATO’s Black Sea Littoral States

By Professor Jordan Becker* explains the dynamics of burden-sharing in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and other countries and what are the consequences of these actions.

*King's College London; United States Military Academy, Department of Social Science; Vesalius College; Free University of Brussels (VUB)-Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Institute for European Studies.


The allocation of scarce resources is a grand strategic question – burden-sharing behavior has clear effects on states’ ability to contribute to collective defense. I operationalize transatlantic burden-sharing in line with NATO’s “Cash, Capabilities, and Contributions” approach for a mixed-methods analysis of the burden-sharing behavior of NATO’s Black Sea littoral states – Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. Using a multi-method analytical approach, I find that national and particularly regional political economies drive burden-sharing choices more than geostrategy, at least in the current strategic environment.

Specifically, Bulgaria appears to be hedging between Russia, NATO, and the European Union, resulting in rhetorical commitments to NATO and the EU but limited behavioral changes. Romania, on the other hand, seems to be prioritizing protection from NATO against Russia in an almost obsequious way, rapidly increasing defense spending to meet the Wales Pledge criteria. Finally, Turkey has focused on terrorism and its Kurdish issue, both within its own borders and in neighboring Syria, testing allies’ loyalty.

Suggested Citation:

Becker, Jordan, Burden-Sharing, Geopolitics, and Strategy in NATO’s Black Sea Littoral States (February 27, 2019). Available at SSRN:


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