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    August 18, 2017

    US building naval base in Ochakov, Ukraine - Will Russia respond?

    August 18, 2017 - Fort Russ - 
    By Eduard Popov - translated by Jafe Arnold - 



    In Ochakov, Ukraine, in direct proximity to Crimea, the construction of an American naval base has kicked off. This was announced on the official site of the US Navy on August 7th, 2017. Earlier, on July 19th, the US Navy announced new cooperation efforts between its elite troops and their Ukrainian counterparts. 

    Ochakov, a port city on the Black Sea, was wrested from the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century by Generalissimo Suvorov’s troops. Ochakov is the birthplace (or one of the birthplaces) of the USSR’s marine spetsnaz, and in 1968 the island of Berezan became the new stationing point of the 17th Naval Infantry Brigade transferred from Sevastopol. Following the collapse of the USSR, the 73rd Marine Special Operations Center of the Ukrainian Navy was established there followed by the 7th Naval Infantry Brigade consisting of underwater mining, underwater de-mining, reconnaissance and saboteur, and special communications units. This is a rough equivalent to the American Navy Seals.

    Back in Soviet times, the Ochakov naval intelligence training center constituted a unique base and drew top-class experts into its ranks. Even over the several decades of Ukrainian independence, the remnants of this former gem were not liquidated, although Ukrainian naval commandos did decline drastically in professional skill compared to their Soviet naval predecessors. 

    In other words, Ochakov has not been chosen as a US Navy base in Ukraine by accident. Ukraine’s naval forces are in a state close to clinical death, with a single detachment of marine special forces being one of the few combat-ready units of the Ukrainian Navy left, a fact thanks exclusively to the heritage - training methods, equipment, and people - which Ukraine inherited from the Soviet Union.

    The construction of a US Navy base in Ochakov is not something unexpected. Since 2015, and perhaps even earlier, the Americans have held military instruction programs for the Ukrainian Armed Forces and National guard. At the Yavoriv training grounds in the Lvov region. 290 American commandos are known to be training Ukrainian National Guard soldiers.

    According to military observers in Ukraine, there are three polygons (training grounds) at which American instructors are training Ukrainian soldiers for the Anti-Terrorist Operation zone in Donbass. In particular, my sources associated with the 128th Mountain Infantry Brigade (Mukachevo, Transcarpathian region) have posited that mountain shooters are constantly being trained in Transcarpathia. Moreover, American instructors are training not only UAF unit personnel, but also some Nazi groups, in particular Right Sector.

    On the one hand, US Congressmen have demanded that American military aid not be distributed to Nazi battalions such as Azov and others. On the other hand, American commandos are secretly training Ukrainian Nazis in at least once place  - Transcarpathia.

    While the American military has long since established training programs for Ukrainian troops in Western Ukraine, their current “cooperation” is reaching a qualitatively new level with the establishment of permanent American military bases on Ukrainian territory.  

    On June 21st, the head of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, Andrey Parubiy, gave an interview on the program “Freedom of Speech” on ICTV in which he claimed that US military bases would soon be built across Ukraine as part of NATO-Ukraine cooperation. Let us recall that Andrey Parubiy is one of the founders and the chairman of the Social-National Party of Ukraine (which Oleg Tyagnibok’s Svoboda later grew out of), which openly professes the ideology of “social nationalism”, or the Ukrainian version of the ideology of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party. It is with such a “partner” that the US is developing military cooperation.

    The Constitution of Ukraine, however, stipulates the country’s non-aligned status. The NATO Charter also forbids accepting countries which have territorial conflicts with their neighbors. Moreover, any induction of Ukraine into NATO would pose too many big problems for both the alliance and Ukraine itself. For example, Ukraine would be compelled to adopt NATO arms standards, and NATO would become responsible for “defending Ukraine from Russia” if we take NATO and Ukrainian rhetoric, and the realities of the New Cold War, to their logical conclusion. Russia, meanwhile, would not stand idly by and watch Ukraine be adopted into the aggressively anti-Russian NATO bloc. 

    Thus, the American political leadership and military command have chosen the path of least resistance. Yet the creation of a network of American military bases on the territory of Ukraine is nothing other than a form of military occupation. Meanwhile, Ukraine itself will not even get the carrot of European Union membership, all the while receiving the stick of US-NATO boots on its soil. 

    In 1989, the incompetent Soviet leadership headed by Gorbachev and Shevardnadze claimed to have received verbal assurances from Western leaders that NATO would not expand eastwards. Since then, NATO has overtaken not only all the countries of Eastern Europe, but three former Soviet republics as well. In this context, the creation of the first “official” US military base in Ukraine is the next phase of NATO’s offensive to the East. There can be no doubt that Ochakov will be followed by other land and naval bases in both Ukraine and Georgia. 

    On this note, it is worth recalling that the American geopolitical tradition has christened this specific strategy the “anaconda”, which envisions suffocating Russia to death by bringing military bases up to its borders, a tactic which renders even the use of nuclear weapons hopeless. 

    In my opinion, the construction of the US Navy base in Ochakov will finally rid Russia’s leadership of any last illusions as to the possibility of reaching an agreement with Trump. Judging by the facts - and not the pre-election declarations of who is now the 44th President of the United States of America - an even more stringently anti-Russian line is being pursued than under Trump’s Democratic predecessor. Russia has no other option but to harshly respond to these anti-Russian steps which threaten the country’s national security.

    I can only guess as to the reciprocal steps which Moscow may opt for in this situation. Some options have already been voiced by military experts and political analysts. 

    For example, one such retaliatory step could be recognizing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in the borders prescribed in their constitutions, 60% of which are currently under Ukrainian occupation. As a response to America’s legal and illegal arms supplies to Ukraine, Russia should legally and openly supply Russian weapons to the DPR and LPR's armies. 

    The next move would be for the Donbass republics. To this day they have bit their tongues and, under strong pressure from Moscow, complied with the provisions of the Minsk Agreements while Ukraine has defiantly violated them. With the opening of the floodgates of American arms deliveries to Ukraine (secret channels have been flowing since spring of 2014), both the warring sides will opt to abandon the Minsk Agreements, after which the Donbass republics’ armies will go on an offensive campaign aiming to liberate at least all of Donbass that remains under Ukrainian occupation. We can assume that once that starts and once the UAF starts to rout, anti-Nazi, and indeed anti-Ukrainian uprisings will spread like wildfire across the historical lands of Novorossiya. And then the idea of Malorossiya will be imbued with some sense of objective reality.


    This is but one of the possible steps Russia could take in one of the conflict’s theaters, and it can take other forms as well. In any case, an answer can, will and must follow. 




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