Moscow & NATO Playing a ‘Dangerous Tit-For-Tat Game’ in the Ukraine

Yves here. This Real News Network interview with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson puts the current Russia-Ukraine spat in context.

GREG WILPERT: It’s The Real News Network, and I’m Greg Wilpert, coming to you from Baltimore.

On Sunday, Russian warships used a tanker to block Ukrainian navy ships in what Russia says were entering its territorial waters in the Kerch Strait, between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. The Strait separates the Crimean peninsula from Russian mainland, and is a vital point of passage for Ukrainian ships crossing between the two seas. The Russian vessels opened fire and then seized three Ukrainian vessels. Two Ukrainian sailors were injured, and the Ukrainian Navy reports that the Russian ship rammed a tugboat that was helping the Ukrainian vessels navigate the strait. Both the U.N. Security Council and NATO called emergency meetings on Monday to discuss the crisis. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appealed to the Parliament of the Ukraine to grant him war powers, which would give him the authority to declare martial law, and possibly declare war on Russia. Here’s what he said.

PETRO POROSHENKO: Martial law is introduced in order to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities amid increasing aggression, and according to international law, a cold act of aggression by the Russian Federation. Martial law does not mean our refusal to resolve the issue of liberating Ukrainian territory by political and diplomatic means. We intend to keep adhering to all international obligations.

GREG WILPERT: Joining me now to analyze this flareup in tensions between Russia and the Ukraine is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson. He’s a retired U.S. Colonel and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Currently he’s a distinguished professor at the College of William and Mary. Thanks for joining us again, Larry.

LARRY WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.

GREG WILPERT: The Ukraine is saying that Russia has no reason to hold its ships, and Russia is accusing the Ukraine of intentionally creating a provocation in order to draw NATO from what we know of what happened. Who seems to be in the more solid position here, legally speaking?

LARRY WILKERSON: Legally speaking I’m not quite sure, because there are a number of protocols that are at play here. On top of everything is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the designation of territorial waters and shelfs, economic zones and so forth. And the right, even though those things might intersect, to pass through what are called International Straits or international waters, no matter how narrow they may be. Then you’ve also got, underneath that, various protocols and agreements that have been made. In this case, I think there’s one between Russia and Ukraine. There are probably other agreements that impact on the Black Sea, which, as you know, the strait they were trying to pass through is to the north of, or the north side of.

So there are all kinds of international agreements and bilateral agreements about passage through this area. The legal aspects of it really, I think, would boil down to, in many respects, who has Crimea? Ukraine still claims Crimea. Russia now claims Crimea. And if they claim Crimea, then their territorial water, even with unclassed–with respect to unclassed, its definition of straights and so forth–then that territorial water, that is territorial water, even under [unclass], is Russian. If it’s Ukranian, it’s Ukrainian. The Russians are claiming it’s Russian and Ukrainian ships violated it. Ukrainians, I guess, are complaining or asserting the fact that they think it’s still Ukrainian, and so they didn’t violate anything.

But all of that, the legal aspects of it, really boil down–as Mao Zedong said, international law comes out the barrel of a gun. Who has the biggest gun? And in this case, Russia has the biggest gun. It’s also complicated by the fact that Poroshenko has elections coming up, I think, in March. And declaring martial law, what the heck does that have to do with naval affairs? Many suspect that he’s reading his polls and knowing that he’s in trouble, political trouble, and so he’s trying to start something that will help his political chances.

So you have so many different variables here that it’s hard to say who’s right and who’s wrong, except to say that you have to determine whether Russia is right about Ukraine, and ultimately about Crimea, or whether Ukraine is right about Ukraine. And since NATO and the European Union and the United States have been rather in the front of the foxhole claiming that Ukraine is right in many of these disputes, then you’ve got the recipe for real problem. You’ve got NATO’s ships, U.S. ships, other ships that might challenge Russia in these waters. And there again, though, power comes out of the barrel of a gun. Russia has the advantage because it’s operating on interior lines from this area, very close to its own homeland, close to its ports in Crimea. And the United States or NATO would be operating, in the case of NATO, at quite a distance from the United States, quite a distance from its home water.

So this is just another incident in Putin’s ability to poke his fingers in the eyes of NATO, and the United States in particular, since the United States and NATO started encroaching on his near abroad.

GREG WILPERT: Right. Actually, that’s something I was going to ask as well, is the extent to which this might be also driven by domestic politics within Russia. Clearly something’s happening within the Ukraine in terms of the elections and the fact that, as you mentioned, that Poroshenko is behind in the polls. But Putin’s own popularity might be being impacted right now due to a declining economic situation. So I’m just wondering, what role do you think that those domestic factors within Russia might be at play, that this might be a way for him to recuperate some of his own popularity?

LARRY WILKERSON: Well, no question about it. We say domestic politics drives most of Donald Trump’s decision making. And I think that’s a correct interpretation. It also has an impact on people like Poroshenko and Putin. And the plunge in oil prices, my goodness. I looked at a sign this morning, it was $2.19. I never thought I’d see that price again here in Williamsburg. The plunge in oil prices, the benchmarks, has probably hurt Russia pretty badly. They are, as one person said to me recently, a gas station with a capital in Moscow. So Putin, if he’s sinking in the polls, this would be something for him to do that has worked for him in the past. Stick your fingers in Ukraine, which by extension is sticking your fingers in the U.S.’s eyes, and you get a bump in the polls. I wouldn’t put it past him at all.

GREG WILPERT: Now, in 2014, Russia held a referendum in Crimea and ended up annexing the peninsula after it said that 97 percent of the population voted to join Russia. Now, looking at the Kerch Strait between Crimea and Russia, which Ukraine needs in order to access its southeastern coast from the Black Sea, wasn’t such a crisis inevitable sooner or later?

LARRY WILKERSON: Oh, it was. And we have had a number of incidents where a Russian patrol craft, FSB or otherwise, Navy, had come out and challenged Ukrainian ships in accordance with, they said, the agreement that they saw. And they actually, as I understand it, boarded some of these ships and searched them, and caused them commercial damage, if you will, because they held them up so long; didn’t let them get under way for a long period of time. So this is, this has been working up to this more dramatic confrontation that we have now, I think, for some time. And it’s the tit for tat game that Putin is playing with Kiev, and in essence that NATO, the EU, and the United States are playing with Moscow. Ukraine is Ukraine, and it is going to be a member of NATO and a member of the EU. And Moscow says over, over our prostrate body will the whole country of Ukraine–and we’ve taken Crimea, thank you very much, and have invested with little green men and other things in much of Eastern Ukraine. So over my prostate body will that happen.

And Putin has, as I said, the interior lines. It’s much easier for him to operate than it is for NATO or the United States to operate. And as long as that situation exists he’s going to continue to test this. He’s not the equal of us in combination, but he is in a position to test us all the time, and he’s become brilliant at it. He goes into a fissure here, a fissure there, a crack here, a crack there. And if he’s challenged resolutely, he just kind of holds what he’s got or he backs up a little bit. But if he finds more mobility he widens it, deepens it, and exploits it; Syria being a perfect example. And Syria being almost to the point where it’s exterior lines for him.

LARRY WILKERSON: So I have to admire the guy for the brilliance with which he does this, and then, as you said, he turns it into domestic political gain.

GREG WILPERT: But now turning, actually, to the West, the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and pro-European government in the Ukraine has been all about an international conflict already, with constant intervention from NATO, as well as from Russia. Now, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a declaration, actually, where he declared, quote, full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. However, the Ukraine is not yet part of NATO, and thus there’s no obligation to defend the Ukraine. But Stoltenberg’s statement makes it sound like NATO would do just that, defend the Ukraine should a conflict escalate. Now, what do you think? Is that a wise position for the West to take, considering the potential for escalation and outright war?

LARRY WILKERSON: Well, I don’t think it’s been a wise position for the West, quote-unquote, to take, the United States leading the way. But it’s pushed itself and its alliance, NATO, so close to Russia’s borders–I mean, incorporating former Warsaw Pact members into NATO. Putin’s reactions in that regard are perfectly understandable. I’m not saying that the United States and NATO shouldn’t take measures to defend themselves. But why does that include taking over for alliance purposes, now? Commercial purposes, the EU, the common market, so forth and so on, that’s another deal. But taking them over for alliance purposes–we forget. It’s a political alliance, surely. But it’s also a military alliance, and that’s the way Moscow has to look at it.

So their military exercises since about 2013 have been postulated on a NATO invasion of the near abroad, and even a NATO invasion of Russia proper. So this is the way they do their military exercises. Clearly they’re not doing that because they think spending all that money on that preposterous possible situation is just that: preposterous. They think it’s a probability, or at least a possibility.

So we’re giving them the incentive to do this. And to fight over Ukraine–you remember the old expression “Who would die for Danzig?” I keep asking myself, if Americans really were asked to fulfill Article 5 of the NATO treaty for a place like Tbilisi, or even a place like Riga, or any of those countries we’ve now expanded NATO into or proposed expanding NATO into, like Ukraine, what would Americans say when they were told that full conscription was in process, full mobilization was in process, war taxes are going to be levied, and we’re going to war for a city you can’t even pronounce and couldn’t find on a map? That’s what we’re talking about. And oh, by the way, Russia is generally speaking cheek and jowl with that city, whereas we’re ten thousand miles away.

GREG WILPERT: All right. Well, we’re going to leave it there for now. I was speaking to Larry Wilkerson, Distinguished Professor at the College of William and Mary. Thanks again, Larry, for having joined us today.

LARRY WILKERSON: Thanks for having me on.

GREG WILPERT: And thank you for joining The Real News Network. If you like Real News Network stories such as this one, please keep in mind that we’ve started our winter fundraiser and need your help to reach our goal of raising $400,000. Every dollar that you donate will be matched. Unlike practically all other news outlets, we do not accept support from governments or corporations. Please do what you can today.

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53 comments

  1. rd

    The US has had the “Monroe Doctrine” for two centuries now. I think Russia views Ukraine as within its own “Monroe Doctrine” zone.

    While, I would not wish the Russian government on anybody I know, the same can be said for many CIA-backed governments over the past 65 years, including many in Central America where the current migrant caravan is coming from. The Ukrainian government is not a bed of roses either.

    This is a pretty sticky situation with a lot of pride on the Russian side that is in play.

    Reply
  2. Wat

    Well, I like Larry Wilkerson generally, but shouldn’t we always be reminding ourselves of the context of Western aggression in which the Ukrainian/Russian drama is playing out? That would be including the broken promise to refuse NATO membership to former Warsaw Pact countries if Russia agreed to accept German reunification, the American-sponsored regime change coup in Kiev of Feb. ‘f4, and the ethnic cleansing that followed in Eastern Ukraine at the hands of literal Ukrainian Neo-Nazis who honor Stepan Bandera?

    Reply
    1. vlade

      Bandera wasn’t a nazi per se. Bandera was a fanatical Ukrainian nationalist, who was happy to ally with anyone to fight Soviet Russia (and Poles). He was even for a time in a Nazi concentration camp with the intention to be liquidated. UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army), which emerged from Bandera-led Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist, were Ukrainian nationalistic partisans, who fought Germans (once it was clear that they would not creat a Ukrainian state) and Soviets alike (and Poles).

      He was a convenient person for Soviet Russia to paint as a Nazi, because otherwise they would have to acknowledge strong nationalistic feelings in Ukraine, which would imply that it wasn’t happy to be part of the Soviet Union. Which just wasn’t on. It was supposed to be one happy family.

      Before commenting on Ukraine, I recommend one studies the history of it, from original Kiev Russ via Polish-Lithuanian Duchy and subsequent partitions, to what was happening there in 1930 (although reading on the Soviet induced famine really requries guts – but its crucial in understanding of the ethnic composition of the current Eastern Ukraine), WW2 and immediately post WW2.

      Most people have an idea of the problems Balkans suffer as great powers rolled this and that way, but Ukraine has not dissimilar unhappy history. Which does not excuse it – but may stop people talking total nonsense and buying propaganda as truth.

      Reply
      1. Tobin Paz

        When you talk like a nazi, think like a nazi, and commit genocide like a nazi… you probably are a nazi:

        Who Was Stepan Bandera?

        Although Bandera and his followers would later try to paint the alliance with the Third Reich as no more than “tactical,” an attempt to pit one totalitarian state against another, it was in fact deep-rooted and ideological. Bandera envisioned the Ukraine as a classic one-party state with himself in the role of führer, or providnyk, and expected that a new Ukraine would take its place under the Nazi umbrella, much as Jozef Tiso’s new fascist regime had in Slovakia or Ante Pavelić’s in Croatia.

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      2. Olga

        In some sense, you’re right about his not being a nazi. He was, in fact, far worse than German nazis, who put him under a house arrest. “Bandera remains a highly controversial figure today in Ukraine, with some hailing him as a liberator who fought both the Soviets and the Nazis, while trying to establish an independent Ukraine, while others consider him to be a Nazi collaborator and a war criminal, who was, together with his followers, largely responsible for the Volhynian genocide and partially for the Holocaust in Ukraine.” And that is just Wikipedia.
        When your followers commit atrocities that make even German nazis blush – what exactly are you?

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      3. Olga

        Good to recommend studying history! And when one does, one learns that there was no such thing as Ukraine(a), until Lenin and Stalin spliced it together from assorted parts of the czarist empire: the western part (which was under Poland/Litva, Habsburgs, and taken over Poland again); the centre (ancient Kievskaja Rus); and the eastern part (which was Russian Novorosija). They were also, in part, concerned about balancing the ratio of workers and peasants on this newly formed territory. U. had its own seat at the UN – a ploy by those pesky Russkies to increase the strength of the socialist bloc.
        Under the USSR, U. was perhaps the most prosperous republic, highly developed and productive. How far it has fallen since 1991 is worse than a Greek tragedy.

        Reply
  3. flora

    Unmentioned are Nordstream, Nordstream II, Southstream (this year, 2018,Bulgaria proposed restarting the Southstream construction project) and Turkish Stream. Southstream maps through Ukraine. Turkish Stream maps through Turkey and the Black Sea & Azov Sea.

    Interesting coincidence.

    Reply
    1. flora

      adding: the Southstream project is now mapped to go through Bulgaria, immediately north of Ukraine, for obvious reasons. Both routes require crossing the Black Sea.

      (tin foil hat time:
      1. a shooting war in the Black Sea might shut gas pipeline projects down.
      2. a shooting war in the Black Sea/Balkans will play hell with the Eurozone and it’s reliance on Russian gas for winter heating at a reasonable price and reliable delivery.
      3. a shooting war in the Black Sea/Balkans will play hell with the Eurozone’s cohesion and with NATO’s cohesion, as if there aren’t already enough problems with the Eurozone’s cohesion.
      4. NATO alliance to thwart Russian military aggression is one thing; NATO alliance to force purchase of US products (gas, in this case) to the detriment of European NATO members is something else.

      removes tin foil hat.)

      Reply
  4. David May

    Purely anecdotal,
    Last week a Ukrainian waitress who had been just back to visit family told me that she could not believe the amount of US military in Ukraine. She said that people felt that “something was going to happen”. Sorry I couldn’t get more details.

    Reply
    1. Bill Smith

      “believe the amount of US military in Ukraine”

      Could be pretty subjective if her parents lived next to one of the training ranges.

      I wonder if this is in the hundreds or thousands.

      For example, the “Clear Sky” depicted as “huge” happened earlier this month.

      “Clear Sky brought together nearly 1,000 soldiers and airmen from nine partner nations, including Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom.”

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Yes, it’s all just subjective, and just one little anecdote, of course. So easy to dismiss.

        There’s this, however, https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2017/06/08/amid-russia-tensions-us-army-continues-to-build-up-ukrainian-forces-training-center/, among a lot of other bits of available info on US fiddling in Ukraine if one does a search in open sources. And let’s remember that the “combat training center” is reported to be manned (and woman’d, too, of course) by rotating brigades of US and of course other “Western Alliance” troops. A “standard NATO brigade” is what, like 3 to 5,000 troops? So sayeth Wiki, at least: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigade

        Imagine a Russian “combat training post” of brigade size in, say, Quebec, maybe teaching the separatists there the fine points of maneuver-and-fire and hand to hand combat and how to conduct war in an urban area and how to use the weapons the goddam Rooskies would be shipping to them, and spreading the Gospel of Putinism amongst the population there to assist said Separatists to achieve their goal of, you know, separation. Not the best analogy, of course, given the Ukraine-Russia geography and the presence of “NATO” forces of all kinds on as much of the periphery of Russia as or War Leaders and Sneaky Petes have been able to manage, but might be worth a thought.

        Yaas, let us continue with the fear-uncertainty-doubt support of the Neocon Narrative and whatever Great Game BS the CIA and US Global Network-Centric Battlespace Management have up their dirty sleeves for that part of the world. On the way to Full Spectrum Dominance, of course. Because that is the Manifest Destiny of We The People, new?

        Hey, business as usual, and it’s killing not only retail quantities of people in many lands, but the whole living part of the planet — albeit at a pace that the mopes can hardly notice, among all the other claims on their attention and lives. Because that’s what the people who make and sell and deploy and create “doctrines” for the use of and know how to run a regime change know how to do, right?

        Reply
      2. Olga

        Excuse me, but what is a US military training range doing in Ukraine? How would US like it if a Russian range were established in Sonora or Coahuila? And if a tourist notices it, don’t you think Russians are painfully aware of the situation? But they should just accept it, as US/Nato creep ever closer to the Russian border. The amount of hypocrisy seems boundless…
        Wilkerson is often correct, but all those comments about Putin poking the the eye of the US if just plain gibberish. The Russians did not start this one.

        Reply
    2. Peter

      For the past two months, Eastern European media have been reporting on large US Army troop movements through their countries heading to Ukraine. Trains after trains full of tanks and other equipment.

      Reply
  5. Peter Pan

    Poroshenko got his martial law, but for only 30 days. It will not cover Ukraine entirely, but only regions subject to “Russian aggression,” including Vinnytsia, Luhansk, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Sumy, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Kherson, Sea of Azov. Well, just about any region that voted for former President Viktor Yanukovych.

    The Lviv region certainly isn’t covered under martial law. Even though they’re rabid Russophobes, I suspect that the nationalist Svoboda Party and the white supremacist Right Sektor would’ve put on their paranoid tin-foil-hats and figured that Poroshenko was going to use martial law to go after them. If Poroshenko had gotten what he wanted then there might have been an internal insurrection and possibly Poroshenko hanging from a lamp post (or on the lam with his frenemy, Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of Georgia & former governor of Odesa region).

    I’m waiting for NSA Bolton or SecState Pompeo to claim that Poroshenko made a miscalculation. Isn’t that approximately what former SecState Condoleezza Rice said about Saakashvili’s shelling of Russian peace keeping troops in South Ossetia, Georgia?

    So if Poroshenko’s aim was internal politics, it was one big belly-flop.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Watts

      Poroshenko got his martial law, but for only 30 days. It will not cover Ukraine entirely, but only regions subject to “Russian aggression,” including Vinnytsia, Luhansk, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Sumy, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Kherson, Sea of Azov. Well, just about any region that voted for former President Viktor Yanukovych.

      Right, most of those regions were bases of support for the pro-Moscow Party of Regions. This is simply broadcasting an intention to commit election fraud. The declaration of martial law is a means to an end.

      It kinda seems like a dubious proposition to think that anybody in Kiev or Washington wouldn’t anticipate the Russian response when they poked the Bear. So I’m not convinced that Poroshenko flopped.

      I guess we’ll find out in the next thirty days.

      Reply
  6. vlade

    Just purely legally, the Ukraina and Russia had 2003 treaty with Russia on unimpeded access to Azov sea (for both parties). That was unchallenged until now – when Ukraine tried to send naval vessels there, not just civilian. I believe they provided an upfront note. Note that Ukraine still has a non-trivial chunk of coastline in Azov sea, and as such has legal right to send its vessels there – especially if they give substantial warning.

    Russian bridge between Kerch and Crimea blocks largest ships from MAriupol, which is an important export port for Ukraine.

    On the other hand, it appears that some of the crew on the Ukrainian vessels were from Ukrainian secret service, one wonders why.

    There are NO good guys in this conflict.

    Reply
    1. Andrey Subbotin

      No, they did not provide an up front note, that’s the entire point of controversy. By now
      * FSB published captured orders to cross the straights *stealthily*
      * FSB published interviews with sailors, who confirm this
      * The radio conversations between Russians and Ukrainian ships are out, and Russians keep saying “back off and file your request properly, just like you did last time”
      * About a month ago two Ukrainian navy ships did file correctly, and passed with no problems

      Under current rules you have to file your request 48 hours in advance, take a pilot to pass under the bridge, and pass at assigned time in transit queue

      Reply
  7. flora

    Automatic Earth has an interesting post about this event:
    https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2018/11/you-are-well-inside-the-matrix/

    As for the ‘attacks’ the other day, the Guardian of all outlets explains: “Since the completion of the bridge over the Kerch strait, Moscow has demanded that Ukrainian ships not only give notice of their intention to transit the strait but request permission, a change that Kiev has rejected. According to western diplomats, the dispatch of the three ships was intended to assert freedom of navigation..”

    Sure, you can claim that Russia has no right to ask Ukraine to ask for permission to the Sea of Azov, but then Kiev should have protested that demand, not send three armed vessels to ignore the demand and sail through anyway. That is called provocation.

    And Ukraine provoking Russia is a bad idea. Unless you’re NATO, and you want Ukraine as a member. And unless you’re the chocolate billionaire who took over the government and now has an approval rating in the single digits with elections coming up in March. Question: how much chocolate do Ukrainians eat?

    Reply
  8. Bruce Weiers

    Russia just spent several billions on a combined highway – railway bridge over the Kerch strait. That bridge relieves the threat of siege by Ukraine (and not incidentally is reducing the cost of living in Ukraine and increasing tourism adding to the sense of economic vitality that makes accession to Russia popular locally). But, of course, if Ukraine can routinely route warships and tugs thru the strait under the bridge, without so much as a by-the-by to Russia, that is itself an important threat to Russia’s hold on Crimea.
    .
    These are realist and economic not legal considerations. But, it is an important aspect of the context of political context underneath the narrative of who did what to whom when. Crimea used to be one of highest income provinces of Ukraine and then overnight it became one of the poorest in European Russia, which is in a good position to give Crimea prosperity and income growth. There is plenty of cause for dissatisfaction with Russia, particularly among the Crimean Tartars whose official leader is now a Ukrainian politician. But, absent war, the Russians are likely to hold on to Crimea with the somewhat grudging approval of the vast majority of residents.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For history buffs (from Wikipedia…again):

      The Crimean Khanate, a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, succeeded the Golden Horde and lasted from 1449 to 1783.[33] In 1571, the Crimean Tatars attacked and sacked Moscow, burning everything but the Kremlin.[34] Until the late 18th century, Crimean Tatars maintained a massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire, exporting about 2 million slaves from Russia and Ukraine over the period 1500–1700.[35]

      And a lot more at Wikipedia’s Crimea article.

      Do Crimean Tartars dream of independence for themselves?

      Reply
      1. Olga

        They may dream, but … ain’t gonna happen. OTOH, they are getting a marvelous new, grand mosque in Simferopol. Generally, relations between Russians and Tatars in Crimea are cordial.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Yes, it will be hard…for one reason, if not more – most of the Crimean Tartars are in Turkey today (millions of them there, while there are only about 250,000 in Crimea, since the inhumane and lawless removal by the USSR in 1944.)

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          1. Olga

            Inhumane – may be in the eye of the beholder. The reason they were moved was because they sided with the Gerrman nazis during WWII and actively supported them against the Russian population. Among their oh-so-humane acts was betraying the locations of groups that organized to fight against the nazis. They hid in the mountains, and the ever-humane Tatars disclosed it all to the Germans.
            Given that they spent centuries raiding what are today Ukrainian and Russian territories and poaching the population to sell people into slavery, I am puzzled they tolerate them at all. Half of Stambul is blonde and blue-eyed as a result of those raids. Better to know a bit of history then repeat debunked factoids.

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            1. The Rev Kev

              I was reading stories back in 2014 how the Turks gathered some of their Jihadist fighters from Syria and were going to fly them into Crimea on two airliners to come down hard on separatists with the Muslim Tatars as a base for them. If true, then this would explain why the Russians shut down the airport in Crimea as a priority when they made their move. Probably have to wait years more before the real story comes out about those times.

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          2. NotReallyHere

            not to be too picky but ….

            Turkey, and especially Istanbul, is an incredibly diverse place partly because every territory seized from the Ottomans was routinely cleared of Muslims by the victor. Examples are Greece in 1820, Serbia (1815 – 1830) Romania (1870’s) Bulgaria late 1870’s, yada yada.

            Its also weird to hear the phrase “inhumane and lawless removal” used against Russia when we are talking about 1944 …. as if somehow there was nothing else going on at the time.

            Reply
  9. BlueMoose

    What a bunch of f*cktards, all of them (gov’t critters). Normal people in Ukraine, Poland, Russia, etc just want to get on with a normal life. But no, we have to have ideologies and subterfuge. Gov’t should just be a service provided and paid for by our taxes. Nothing else. And they should learn the meaning of the words: cooperate, compromise, civilty for the benefit of their citizens.

    Rant off.

    Reply
    1. Olga

      Several commentators were predicting that Porky Porosh would resort to one or more provocations in the ran up to the election – mainly on account of his garnering no more than 8-9% popularity rating. There really is not too much mystery to this whole affair.

      Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    So I was reading how Poroshenko was briefing Pompeo on progress in trying to get martial law passed (https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/11/mps-block-poroshenko-he-flees-from-the-rada-to-his-facebook-page-phones-pompeo/) and then I began to wonder. The Ukrainian elections are on 29th March next year so even if Poroshenko got his full 60 days of martial law, there was still a long gap until the elections itself so why the odd timing.
    Then the penny dropped. There is the G-20 Buenos Aires summit starting soon and Putin is supposed to be meeting Trump while there. Trump has not fallen in line with people like Nikki Halley but said: “We do not like what’s happening, either way, we don’t like what’s happening and hopefully it will get straightened out.” So he is not onboard with another raft of sanctions nor refusing not to meet Putin. Was this all then an attempt to spike that meeting hence the early timing?

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  11. Andrey Subbotin

    There must be a period of 3-4 months between the end of martial law and elections for candidate registration, agitation etc. For elections to happen on time it must end in early January 2019

    Once martial law is in place, the president can prolong it indefinitely with no legal limitations. Unhappiness of western backers might be a practical constraint, but that can be mitigated through more provocations. So expect something happening in a month – parliament initially only authorized 30 days, and Poroshenko needs to create a reason to prolong

    Reply
  12. Paul Hirschman

    If Mexico formed an alliance with Russia, how would the US respond? (Cuban missile crisis?) From the point of view of traditional great power politics, it’s that simple. Monroe Doctrine and all that. Russia has been fighting the West in this area from at least 1610. We’re poking around their neighborhood and no great power can tolerate such arrogance.

    Reply
  13. JTMcPhee

    And recall another recent “incident,” January 2016, those Mope Marines on “riverine command boats” somehow “straying into Iranian waters’ near the military base on Farsi Island. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_U.S.–Iran_naval_incident First, “mechanical failure,” then “navigation error,” then punishment of 9 of the 10 Marines for dereliction or something. And there was, drum roll, a Command Investigation, that found mumble mumble grunt sigh… Could not have been one of those probing operations that the Great (sic) Powers do, or the Israel -ites, to check out the capabilities and responses and electronic and “kinetic” equipage of “the enemy,” by sending sacrificial mopes Into Harm’s Way, could it? Naaahh.

    Even worse, if it was just Mope Gyrenes demonstrating the actual incompetence in Warcraft of Our World’s Greatest Military, let’s remember that there’s 4,000 nuclear warheads on sub-launched and land-based multiple warhead ICBMs and in the bomb bays of the “ready line” bombers and attack aircraft of “NATO,” and thousands more on the Evil Soviet Russian side, and China with a couple hundred, and Yisrael with 200 to 600 more. All poised for quick if not instantaneous launch, increasingly under control of Advanced Artificial Intelligence Genius Command and Control Systems ™, https://thebulletin.org/landing_article/the-promise-and-peril-of-military-applications-of-artificial-intelligence/. All waiting, impatiently in many cases, especially the Revelationist Xtian Air Farce officers and enlisted men, for action, I might add. Waiting for some little ‘incident” like the ginned-up Ukraine idiocy or that oopsie by the Jarheads in January 2016 to trigger the cascade of interlocking events and doctrines and directives and Operational Plans that means I can stop churning my guts over the environment my child and grandchildren would otherwise find themselves having to try to survive in…

    Effing stupid humans. Top to bottom.

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  14. Blue Pilgrim

    I got 6 minutes into the video and I had to turn it off before my rising blood pressure exploded my head, such was the level of imperialist propaganda, anti-Russia spin, and deception.
    I’ve been following these matters closely at Fort Russ https://www.fort-russ.com and other sources. MoA (some links to him from other commenters below), and he is a good source.

    This was a provocation from Ukraine and it’s NATO handlers. A few facts: the ships trespassed on what was Russian territory before the Crimean affair; Ukrainian ships, including military, have passed through previously according to the standard procedures; this was not according to the agreements made, Russians were not notified, and legal demands to stop and get clearance were ignored; crew members statements and papers found on the ships make it clear this was for the purpose of provocation; martial law was originally requested for 60 days, which the Rada cut back to 30, and is renewable — upcoming elections are a large factor of the motivation.

    This is another strike from the US empire and it’s Nazi puppets in Ukraine as part of it’s ‘pivot to Asia’ and war on Russia (whose economy is in relatively good shape BTW, with Putin still doing well politically). The lies and propaganda from corporate, imperialist, western, sources continues to be astounding and disgusting. This video is not “real” news, but spin and imperialist framing (from Gen. Colin Powell’s (the liar whose UN presentation did much to start the war on Iraq) former chief of staff).

    Ask yourselves, why did the US and EU set up the coup in Ukraine to start with, why are their NATO troops there, and who is supporting the fascists running the country (it’s NATO)? It’s US imperial aggression, plain and simple.

    BTW, Russia is accused of meddling in the US election, but it was the Ukraine and the FBI there (and chack out Browder and Kordakovsky), and MI6, who actually meddled in favor of Clinton — see Lee Stranahan and Faultlines show (available at Sputnik and other places), with the Steele dossier, etc. — as part of the deep state’s hegemonic and war campaigns).

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    1. timbers

      I agree. This is NOT an example of “both sides are bad” as Vlade keeps saying. This is Ukrainian aggression probably encouraged by U.S. and Ukraine is violating it’s own agreements with Russia.

      How much has Ukraine’s economy contracted since the U.S. installed the Nazis too power? 50%? 66%?

      Larry Wilkerson is biased…”when Russia took Crimea.” And his statement NATO “has to defend itself.” From what? Bloated military spending being forced upon it by The Empire from non-existent Russian aggression? What about the thousands of U.S. troops occupying Germany and destroying Germany’s sovereignty?

      Why didn’t Wilkerson mention all those U.S. troops of aggression in Germany and elsewhere?

      Reply
      1. Blue Pilgrim

        I just came across this good article http://thesaker.is/drama-in-the-kerch-strait-teasing-the-russian-bear/ — Pepe Escobar with Asia Times, which includes links to others.

        BTW, as for US sending naval forces into Azov Sea, check out the shallow draft there — they would run aground (if they ever were allowed to get that far).

        Bias? The last thing I heard from WIlkerson in the video befoe I killed it was ‘Russia is a gas station with the capital in Moscow’ — a line from John McCain, the late ‘Famous Peacemaker and Expert on Russia’ (who like to hang around with Ukrainian nazis for photo ops).

        The Saker is another good site for writers and information about this, and often links to material originally in Russian, and translated there. There is also coverage at https://www.strategic-culture.org

        Reply
  15. Trey N

    Once again, the sheer hubris and hypocrisy of the USSA neocons beggars belief: “We have an obligation to defend our borders with walls and tear gas and deadly force – but you are not allowed to defend your borders at all!”

    Talk about chutzpah….

    As far as NATO in Ukraine, farce along the lines of The Mouse that Roared only begins to describe the situation. The Russians have activated the First Guards Tank Army to defend their border with NATO – and the mighty USSA sends 800 Marines to Norway, the mighty Luftwaffe can put a whole 4 serviceable top line fighters into the air, and the-formerly-great Britain doesn’t even have enough sailors to man their navy (and let’s not forget the Norwegian frigate that sank itself after the latest NATO drill in the Baltic…).

    Good Lord, this fustercluck would be absolutely hysterical if the potential for global catastrophe wasn’t involved….

    Reply
  16. Blue Pilgrim

    Check out video, with Mark Sleboda, at http://theduran.com/the-real-reason-behind-ukraines-sudden-martial-law-video/ about 35 minutes
    The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda take a look at the real reason behind Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko’s Kerch Strait provocation, and how it has less to do with conflict towards Russia and more to do with self preservation, as Ukraine’s ‘8% approval rating’ President.

    Mark Sleboda is also a frequent guest on RT’s ‘Crosstalk’ with Peter Lavelle, and is rather expert on the region, as well as being an international political analyst (although one will find disagreement on usual correctness from Joaquin Flores at Fort Russ). Slebod’s wife is Crimean and he has family in Ukraine. This video has in-depth information.

    Reply

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