Crimean Consternation – Ukraine

February 28, 2014

I closed yesterday’s entry with “Meanwhile a wary eye kept on events in Crimea – it will be telling as to the reception the World Congress of Tatars delegation receives when considering they are based in Tatarstan (part of the Russian Federation)  and the resurfacing of Viktor Yanukovych in Russia under Russian protection.”

This morning Arsen Avakov (Minister of Internal Affairs) stated that an “armed invasion and occupation” is underway in and around Bekbek and Simferopol airports:

“Крым. Докладываю положение по итогам ночи, что бы не питались слухами:

1. Аэропорт Бельбек. Заблокирован военными подразделениями флота РФ. Внутри аэропорта находятся военные и пограничники Украины. Снаружи – военные в камуфляже и с оружием без опознавательных знаков, но не скрывающие своей принадлежности. Аэропорт не работает. На внешнем периметре посты МВД Украины. Вооруженного столкновения пока нет.

2. Аэропорт Симферополь. Около 12 ночи группа в гражданском, около 100 человек, назвавшаяся казачьей сотней, преодолев ограждение на территорию аэропорта вышла на поле аэродрома.
Силами внутренних войск и милиции эти люди были оттеснены сначала в здание аэропорта, а затем и вовсе за территорию. Оружие не применялось. Район аэропорта был покинут «казаками» около часа ночи – погрузились на тентованные камазы и уехали.
Около 1.30 ночи в здание аэропорта прибыли на нескольких грузовиках 119 военных с автоматическим оружием в камуфляже без опознавательных знаков. Вошли в здание аэропорта, разместились в помещении ресторана. Не скрывают своей принадлежности к вооруженным силам российской федерации. На вопросы украинских сотрудников мвд « вы военные и не имеете право тут находится» – отвечают коротко – не имеем инструкций вести с вами переговоры. Ситуация статична, оружие с обоих сторон не применялось. Русские военные статично наблюдают за работой аэропорта, прямо не вмешиваясь.

Внутренние войска и мвд Украины усилили наряды в районе аэропорта. Напряжение нарастает.
Противостоять регулярным военным силам органы правопорядка не смогут.

Происходящее оцениваю, как ВООРУЖЕННОЕ ВТОРЖЕНИЕ И ОКУПАЦИЯ. В НАРУШЕНИЕ ВСЕХ МЕЖДУНАРОДНЫХ ДОГОВОРОВ И НОРМ. Это прямая провокация вооруженного кровопролития на территории суверенного государства.
Это уже не компетенция МВД. Это компетенция СНБО.
 Пока еще нет прямого вооруженного столкновения, должны говорить дипломаты.”

Indeed what became a protest for good transparent democratic governance centered in Kyiv, has morphed into a serious and tense separatist problem in Crimea.

With such dangerous events in Crimea making the headlines, perhaps my perceived almost willful ignorance in hardly mentioning it needs correcting – at least in this blog.  Regarding Crimea I been ruminating in several other parts of cyberspace that whilst others were looking to eastern Ukraine as the problem area for national unity, it would be seated with the Autonomous Republic.

Indeed as very fluid and seemingly spontaneous events unfold in Crimea, a few words on one of the more extreme issues facing The Kremlin should it pursue some form of direct – or less than subtle indirect – policy of annexing Crimea, or parts therein.

As stated yesterday, it will be telling to see just what sort of reception the World Congress of Tatars Delegation receives upon its arrival in Crimea given it is resident in Tatarstan – part of the Russian Federation.

Despite all the noise from Kyiv, Crimea itself, Russia, the EU and USA there has until now been silence from a very close and influential player – Turkey.  That, however, has eventually changed – and predictably it supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine in line with the sentiments of the Crimean Tatars.  Who would have thought it would be any other way?

It is no secret that is would be almost impossible for any European nation seeking to become a member of the EU to do so with a frozen conflict or unsettled territorial issues.  Lesson learned from Cyprus as far as the EU is concerned.

Thus any plans to annex Crimea either directly or via the creation of a Transnistria styled frozen conflict would if not delivering a pliant Ukraine to the Kremlin, certainly prevent a Ukraine that will become an EU Member State.  A de facto Russian veto on EU membership whilst ever it kept the frozen conflict going.

Whether the Crimean parliament’s announcement of a referendum on 25th May regarding the expansion of autonomous powers (not quite secession) will prove to be a solution is difficult to answer – especially as the Crimean Tatar are hardly going to welcome the donning of a Kremlin yoke once more, either directly or via subterfuge and proxy governance.

In the worst possible case scenario relating to the (deliberate) creation of a frozen conflict, or the annexing in part or in whole of Crimea, one has to doubt the outcome would be as reliable and subdued as that of Transnistria from a Russian perspective – given the intense desire of the Crimean Tatar to remain Ukrainian – or perhaps better stated, anything but Russian – a Chechen outcome would seem far more likely.

Whilst Russia may realise that it will not get what it wants with regard to Ukraine – it also knows what it doesn’t want.   The question is whether it is prepared to create and then deal with another insurgency by following a very destabilising policy in Crimea?

As The Kremlin is not beyond taking self-inflicted wounds in pursuit of its goals – will this be one of them?

Meanwhile are the lawyers of the USA and UK looking at the Budapest Memorandum with a view to honouring it with integrity – or for wiggle room to avoid their 1994 commitments?


One comment

  1. Given Sevastopol’s history of leaning toward rejoining Russia, it would seem logical for the city to be the barometer for testing the reclamation of the Crimea. Here in the USA, the general populace (voter) sentiment is to stay out of a country’s civil strife. So, if the reclamation initiated as a civil war, or even a perceived citizen support to rejoin Russia, then I doubt the US would do much other than pour in billions of dollars we don’t have. As long as it publicly appears it is the Ukrainian people’s decision, and not the overt actions of governments, our citizens won’t want us involved. We’ll talk big, but openly do little else. Behind the scenes? Hard to say. We’re certainly not above employing Turkey (or another country where we have military interests) as a front man for military support while denying the same.

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