Interdisciplinary Research on Russia’s Geopolitics in the Black Sea and the Arctic Ocean is a project made in partnership between the University of Bucharest, Romania, and the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway, for a 36-month duration (January 2021 – December 2023). The Principal investigator is Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, and the leader of the partner team is Arild Moe.

This project is funded by the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 in the Collaborative Research Programme. Total amount of financing is 1,164,000 euros, from which 85% is providing by the donor states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and 15% is the contribution of the Romanian government. The budget is divided between those two partners: 839,048 euros for the University of Bucharest, and 324,952 euros for Fridtjof Nansen Institute.

The undertaking of this project was determined by the need of new research of Russia’s policy in the Black Sea under the circumstances of the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and of new military, political and economic strategies promoted by Moscow in the last years. Romania, as a country neighbouring the Black Sea, is directly interested in research on Russia’s geopolitics in the region, especially since the two countries share a common history in the last two centuries.

Another argument for initiating this project consists of the need to train a new generation of specialists in Russian relations, as there is no university-level school of this kind in Romania.

The partnership has been made due to the experience the Norwegian researchers have in research on Russia’s geopolitics in the Arctic Ocean. Norwegian specialists are interested in developments in the Black Sea region and their consequences on Norway’s relations with Russia. There are multiple similarities between Russia’s policy in the Black Sea and in the Arctic, making them suitable for a comparative study: the exploitation of petroleum and gas reserves from the continental shelves, the claiming of a larger surface of the continental shelf by Russia in the Arctic and in the Black Sea, Russian investments, Russian propaganda, the position of NATO states, of which Romania and Norway are part of, in regards to Russia’s military strategy and its aggressiveness etc.

The project’s objectives are: (1.) Accomplishing a comparative interdisciplinary research on Russia’s geopolitics in the Black Sea and in the Arctic; (2.) The formation and development of a human research resource at the University of Bucharest for the study of Russia’s geopolitics in the Black Sea through the employment of a significant number of young researchers; (3.) The establishment of a Centre for Russian Studies at the University of Bucharest, with research support (online resources, specialized library, etc.) as an institutional base for future researches on Russia’s geopolitics in the Black Sea.

The most important results of the project will be the research performed by the project team, formed of researchers of the University of Bucharest and of the Norwegian partner, as well as by the young specialists who will be trained through the PhD and post-doctoral positions offered for individual research projects within the general theme of Russia’s geopolitics in the Black Sea and in the Arctic.

10 post-doctoral research grants for 12 months and 3 PhD study grants for 24 months will be granted during the project. The selection of the young scholars will be performed by a mixed team of the two project partners. In addition to the mentorship provided by the experienced specialists in the field for the young scholars, research facilities, intensive Russian language courses, as well as a specialised library on the subject and an online database with the bibliography pertaining to the project’s theme will be created. This material base will be administered after implementation by a research centre of Russia’s geopolitics, which will be founded at the University of Bucharest in order to ensure the continuation of the subject’s research.