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Turning the Sea of Azov into a pond

November 25, 2018

To the surprise of nobody precisely nobody the long forecast (many months) and high probably events around the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait have finally taken on a manifestation that cannot be ignored.

Previous incidents, while duly noted and raising a collective “tut” along with rightful Ukrainian ire, have culminated in little more than behind the curtain conversations and one or two conferences/panel discussions/mildly worded public communiques.

However parking a tanker across the Kersh Strait and effectively turning the Sea of Azov into a big pond is not something that can be ignored.  Neither are the clashes between Ukrainian and Russian navies as a result.

Russia, or more accurately the FSB charged with protecting “Russian borders” blame Ukrainian ships for entering “Russian waters” around the illegally annexed Crimea – which de jure remain Ukrainian even if de facto under Russian control/occupation.

AS a result of the clashes half a dozen Ukrainian sailors were injured and damage suffered to Ukrainian ships.

Naturally Ukraine will have planned for this eventually at a military and political level.  Many hours of serious though will have gone into any response – or more accurately numerous possible responses to choose from by the President and National Security Committee.

This current incident may or may not be a dot on what will become a chart of further upward escalation or a peek in the ebb and flow in the games being played out around the Sea of Azov.

President Putin will look like the all-powerful Tsar – particularly with the domestic Russian audience.  There will be yet more collective tutting and communiques spewing forth from national capital in Europe and beyond.

Yet everybody knows that in practical terms the tanker will not remain where it is.  The Sea of Azov will be reopened in quick order.  Everybody also knows that there should be a response as The Kremlin pokes to see if it is yet to meet steel or still prods into mush.

Naturally no response will make it continue to believe there is still room to go before meeting any form of real push back.  A meek response will be something it is well prepared to suffer as a result of this incident and making a Kremlin point to all who look on.

A reaction is required – but neither an under nor overreaction – from both Ukraine and its supporters.  Calculating and cool heads are required both within and without Ukraine.  Chest thumping, testosterone filled red mist is not the order of the day.

President Poroshenko is in an reelection campaign.  At the very least he has to be seen to be doing something even if in reality he is doing nothing (perhaps for solid reason).

The Ukrainian response, and there must be one, will be interesting to behold.

 

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