CPC - Caspian Policy Center


Black Sea Security

Black Sea Security

The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) and the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) Club convene high-level experts and policymakers to discuss critical security challenges in the Black Sea region. From Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and peace-building efforts in the South Caucasus to infrastructure investment and green transitions, this conference aims to raise regional voices and strengthen collective prosperity and security between the United States and the Black Sea region. In partnership with Johns Hopkins University’s SAIS Europe and Eurasia Department and the Caspian Policy Center, the Black Sea Security Conference is proud to include keynote remarks from the Hon. Celeste Wallander, U.S. Asst. Secretary for Defense, and discussions with experts from the academic, public, and private sectors.

We are pleased to welcome you to our Black Sea Security Conference on January 24, 2024, at John Hopkins University’s Bloomberg Center.

555 Pennsylvania Avenue, 8th floor

9:00 AM – 3 PM, January 24, 2024




Agenda Items


9:00–9:30AM     Registration and Welcome Coffee Reception


9:30–9:35AM      Opening remarks


Welcome from Dr. Marsha McGraw Olive, faculty advisor for SAIS Caucasus and Central Asia Club, and CPC Board Member


9:35–9:45AM       Opening remarks from Mariami Tkeshelashvili, Caucasus and Central Asia Club co-President

9:40–9:45AM       Introduction of Keynote Speaker by Dean Steinberg


9:45–10:30AM     Keynote address and Q&A by the Hon. Celeste Wallander, United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs


10:30–10:45AM     Coffee break


10:45AM–12:00PM      Panel 1: Defense Security

The Black Sea region’s security framework was upended with Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 2024 commenced with the largest air strikes since the beginning of the invasion, Russia is reportedly establishing a new naval port in the occupied Abkhazia region, and Türkiye's NATO membership has come under scrutiny. These events have placed considerable strain on regional alliances and defense mechanisms, necessitating a reassessment and realignment of strategies for ensuring Black Sea security.


Moderator: Ambassador Richard Hoagland, Security and Politics Program Chair at Caspian Policy Center



  • Dr. Roger Kangas, Academic Dean of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies
  • Ambassador Alper Coskun, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace
  • Ambassador (ret.) William Courtney , Adjunct Senior Fellow at RAND Corporation, Former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia


12:00 – 1:00 PM     Lunch break (buffet)


1:05 – 2:15 PM       Panel 2: Economic and Energy Security

Changing supply lines, the global energy transition, and adapting economic partnerships have made the Black Sea region a pivotal economic nexus. While some countries in the region have experienced tremendous economic growth in recent years, geopolitical factors have markedly affected others. The Economic and Energy Security panel will address how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has impacted economic stability in the Black Sea region, how supply lines have adapted to new realities, and the regional economic outlook.


Moderator: Efgan Nifti, CEO of Caspian Policy Center



  • Laura Lochman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources at the U.S. Department of State
  • Landon Derentz, Senior Director and Morningstar Chair for Global Energy Security at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center
  • Ambassador (ret.) Steven Mann, Former U.S Caspian Energy Envoy and Ambassador to Turkmenistan
  • Sam Rotenberg, Senior Advisor of International Government Affairs at ExxonMobil Ambassador of the EU to the United States (Invited)
  • Javier Sancho Velazquez, Head of Global Affairs and Innovation EU Delegation to the U.S.


2:15–2:20PM       Closing remarks from Rachel Shifman, CCA Club co-president


2:25–3PM            Networking Reception