The Crimea: American, or Russian?

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January 5, 2018 – Fort Russ News –

– Thoughts on a WikiLeaks nugget by Tom Winter –

Screen capture from the United States Navy’s CFP for renovation in Sevastopol

Can you imagine US troops in the Crimea? No need to imagine. They were there. And if Russia had ignored the plebiscite of the people, the US Navy would be there today. Instead, faute de mieux, the US Navy is now ensconced at Ochakov, Ukraine on the coast of the Black Sea, thanks to the compliant regime in Kiev.

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There have been US forces in the Crimea, back in those “Orange Revolution” days when Ukraine held Krushchevian sway over the Crimea.

Thanks to WikiLeaks, we know about their presence in Crimea, and also about the popular reaction in the Crimea to US forces being there. 

In sum, the reaction of the Russian-speaking population was what you would expect, furious. We invite you to read the the whole cable, but here is the US State Department’s own summary:  

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1. (SBU) Summary:  Anti-Orange Revolution forces are using the occasion of a joint U.S.-Ukraine mil-mil cooperative exercise in Crimea to stir up anti-NATO sentiment in the majority ethnic Russian peninsula and smear the Ukrainian government.  Demonstrators outside GOU-administered compounds in the Crimean cities of Feodosiya and Alushta bottled up U.S. military personnel (temporarily restricting access to food and water), followed the vehicles in which they were being transported, and otherwise prevented the reservists from doing the job they were sent to do —  building basic facilities for participants in the joint military exercise “Sea Breeze” that is scheduled to begin in mid-July.  The Ukrainian military unsuccessfully attempted to keep Sea Breeze preparations approved by the GOU low profile pending passage of legislation specifically authorizing the exercise.  We have energetically engaged senior levels of the Ukrainian government to resolve the situation and ensure the safety of U.S. military personnel, our paramount concern.  A positive resolution to this ongoing problem is important to the GOU to deny its opponents a political victory and to maintain its reputation as a reliable partner in joint military exercises. 

 End summary.

Wow. Locals prevented the US reservists from doing their job! Of course, it came to worse than that.

But the US Navy apparently got accustomed to putting US troops on Russia’s southern frontier with the easy connivance of a friendly regime in Kiev.

A touch of background, that you probably already know: since Krushchev’s illegal transfer of the Crimea to the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, then when Gorbachev ended the Soviet Union, Ukraine became a country, and controlled the Crimea.

Russia then had to lease its peninsular naval bases from the Kiev government. In 2009, the Orange Revolution government of Yushchenko said that the lease, which was to end in 2017, would not be renewed and that the Russian fleet would have to leave! Though the lease was renegotiated, this little adventure was a demo of how much Ukraine was in control of Russia’s access to the Black Sea.

The US Navy was so sure of its access to Sevastopol – of all places! – that it put out a call for proposals to renovate a school there in 2013. For local good will? Or for the use of military personnel? The US Navy’s CFPis still on the web: FedBizOpps.Gov

The title question lurks behind one of Obama’s more famous interviews. We take a close look:

On national television, February 1, 2016, President Obama admitted, in semi-opaque and lawyerly language, three big things about Ukraine and Crimea.

1. The US was behind the 2014 coup in Kiev [“we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine”]

2. The accession of Crimea to Russia was a reaction to the coup [“Mr Putin made his decision about Crimea … because he was caught off-balance … after we had brokered a deal to transition power”], and

3. Crimea then became the lever to apply sanctions against Russia. [allowed the imposition of sanctions]

Here is the relevant portion of the transcript of his February 1 interview with Fareed Zacharia:

And since Mr. Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine — not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan and Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine — since that time, this improvisation that he’s been doing has getting — has gotten him deeper and deeper into a situation that is a violation of international law, that violates the integrity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, has isolated Russia diplomatically, has made Europe wary of doing business with Russia, has allowed the imposition of sanctions … link: CNNpressroom

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