Mediterranean Strategy Group The War in Ukraine and the Mediterranean Nexus


8:00 am May 2023


4:00 pm May 2023
Add to Calendar 2023-05-15 08:00:00 2023-05-18 16:00:00 Mediterranean Strategy Group The War in Ukraine and the Mediterranean Nexus Description Location Policy Center Policy Center Africa/Casablanca public

Location: Palermo, Italy. 

In partnership with the Policy Center for the New South and Compagnia di San Paolo, German Marshall Fund of the United States organizes the 23rd edition of the Mediterranean Strategy Group on May 15-18 in Palermo, Italy.

This year’s focus will be on the War in Ukraine and the Mediterranean Nexus and will address the following themes:

  • - The Ukraine War: What now, What next?
  • - Russia’s southern posture
  • - War, Politics and Sanctions: Perspectives from the South
  • - Will War Transform the Mediterranean Energy Scene?
  • - Migration and Human Security
  • - An East-South Nexus; Implications for NATO and EU Strategy


Session 1: The Ukraine War: What now, What next?

The war in Ukraine and the prospect of sustained confrontation with a revisionist Russia has transformed the international security environment. But this transformation is not taking place in isolation or limited to the East. The consequences of the conflict are being felt on a global basis, not least on Europe’s southern periphery. As a starting point for our conversation: What are the key dynamics in the war? What are the prospects for escalation, stabilization or settlement?

Session 2: Russia’s southern posture

Even prior to the Ukraine war, Russia had returned as a political and security actor in the Mediterranean. Beyond Russia’s interventions in Syria and Libya, Moscow has deployed mercenaries and advisors in the Sahel, and has been active in arms sales from the Eastern Mediterranean to Algeria. How significant is Moscow’s southern posture in political and military terms? Is it sustainable? What are the links to the war in Ukraine? What are the implications for regional military balances and stability?

Session 3: War, Politics and Sanctions: Perspectives From the South

With some notable exceptions, the countries of southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East share the legal and ethical and concerns of the international community regarding Russian aggression in Ukraine. But perceptions and policies are not uniform, especially on the issue of sanctions (Turkey is a key example, but there are others). In political terms, Mediterranean actors are not necessarily on the same page in their approach to Russia and the war, with some aspiring to more arm’s length policies. How big is the gap? What are the drivers? What is the outlook?

Session 4: Will War Transform the Mediterranean Energy Scene?

Offshore oil and gas and onshore renewables have long been part of the geopolitical equation in the Mediterranean. Despite proven potential, with a few notable exceptions, the development of these resources has been haphazard. Many projects remain aspirational, hobbled by political and security concerns and commercial constraints. The “weaponization” of energy in the Ukraine war, and the drive to move away from dependence on Russian oil and gas suggest the possibility of a longer-term shift in Europe’s energy ties from East to South. This could embrace hydrocarbons and hydrogen, as well as the import of electricity from renewable sources -- and the raw materials needed for these technologies. How likely is this shift? What would be required? What are the implications for Mediterranean and transatlantic cooperation?

Session 5: Migration and Human Security

The economic strains and insecurity flowing from the war in Ukraine may well aggravate existing migration pressure in the Mediterranean and the costs in terms of human security. Flows from Africa and the south of the Mediterranean are already at levels not seen since 2015. From food insecurity to instability in West Africa, the Horn and the Sahel, there are significant elements of linkage to the broader strategic equation. In political and operational terms, cooperative maritime and border control operations in the Mediterranean will likely compete with other priorities more directly connected to security in the north and east. Is a new migration crisis emerging in the Mediterranean? What are the implications? What are the prospects for a cohesive response?

Session 6: An East-South Nexus; Implications for NATO and EU Strategy

NATO and the EU are both engaged in strategic reflections and new initiatives driven by the Ukraine war and the prospect of durable confrontation with Moscow. Global dynamics, including the need to deal with a more assertive China and anxiety about American disengagement, are important elements here. So too, are concerns about developments on Europe’s southern periphery. The prevailing environment underscores the interdependence of security in the East and the South. What are the implications of this reality for transatlantic strategy? Are security partners in accord about what constitutes an existential challenge? What shifts will be required to avoid fragmented and under-resourced policies?