September 12, 2023
9:00 am - 9:45 am


Zoom Webinar

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has highlighted NATO’s front line as vital for collective defense. The United States’ leadership of the West and its investments in Central and Eastern Europe are now being streamlined into a policy to support Ukraine and strengthen key NATO allies in the region. In turn, Poland and Romania, as anchors of the Alliance's eastern front line, are adapting their defense postures in line with NATO and in response to Russia’s aggression. 

This panel discussion brings together two MEI Black Sea Program research fellows to present their research findings on strategic challenges and opportunities for the United States regarding NATO’s frontline countries, Romania’s and Poland’s adapting defense postures, these states’ defense acquisition processes, and the resilience and vulnerabilities of the U.S.-Romania and U.S.-Poland strategic partnerships. 

Research fellowships have been granted by the U.S. State Department for the Middle East Institute’s Black Sea Program. 

Eoin Lazaridis Power
Title VIII Research Fellow, Black Sea Program, Middle East Institute 

Yekaterina Klepanchuk
Title VIII Research Fellow, Black Sea Program, Middle East Institute 

Iulia-Sabina Joja, moderator
Senior Fellow; Director, Black Sea Program, Middle East Institute

Detailed Speaker Biographies 

Eoin Power is a Title VIII Black Sea Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute and a Ph.D. student in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation focuses on the political economy of defense-industrial policy and maritime security institutions in Europe. His other research interests include international financial regulation and field experiments, with a regional focus on Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Before coming to Texas, he worked as a strategy consultant, serving public and private-sector clients in aerospace and defense. He holds a B.A. in political science and philosophy from Middlebury College, and an M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from the University of Michigan.

Yekaterina Klepanchuk is a Title VIII Black Sea Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute. Her research examines the defensive posture of NATO’s eastern flank since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Prior, Yekaterina held positions at the Institute for the Study of War, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Yekaterina received her master’s degrees from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, specializing in nonproliferation and terrorism studies and international relations.

Iulia-Sabina Joja is a senior fellow and director of MEI's Black Sea Program. She teaches European security as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and George Washington University. Her research and teachings focus primarily on European and Black Sea security. Prior to this, Joja served as an adviser to the Romanian President and as a deputy project manager at NATO Allied Command Transformation in Virginia. She has worked with the Romanian delegation to the United Nations, the European Parliament, and the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She was also a visiting scholar at the Center of Military History and Social Sciences of the German Armed Forces in Potsdam/Berlin and a DAAD postdoctoral fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. 

Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images