Tag Archives: Black Sea Fleet

​Moscow denounces gun attack on pro-Russian activists in Eastern Ukraine

A girl holds a banner reading “Kharkiv, Donetsk, Sevastopol” as pro-Russian supporters attend a rally under the statue of Lenin in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on March 8, 2014

The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized western governments and media for turning a blind eye on alarming incidents in Ukraine, including a gun attack on a pro-Russian rally in the city of Kharkov.

According to eyewitness reports, some seven or eight masked people drove a mini-van to a Saturday rally in central Kharkov, which was demanding a regional referendum on whether it should follow Crimea’s suit and seek joining Russia.

The men armed with bats and handguns ambushed three activists, who were returning from the rally.

“They threatened to kill us. I covered my head so they hit me on the hands. We barely realized what was happening,” one of the victims told Live News tabloid.

The attackers fired several shots in the scuffle, wounding one of the pro-Russian activists in the back. The injury was not life-threatening.

The aggression is one of several incidents, which, according to the Russian foreign ministry, are overlooked in the west. It also cited the detainment and deportation of seven Russian journalists from Ukraine over alleged biased reporting.

There is also the blockade of border travel for Russians living near it, which was recently reported by the Ukrainian border guard service. The service said it banned some 3,500, including 16 journalists, from entering the country, which amounts to about 500 people each day.

“The shamefaced silence of our western partners, rights groups and foreign media is baffling,” the ministry statement said.

Russia considers the government in Kiev, which was imposed following an armed coup last month, illegitimate and heavily influenced by radical forces, which played a key part in the coup.

Several regions in Eastern Ukraine share the view, while the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is to hold a referendum this Sunday over whether it should seek greater independence from the capital, or apply to join Russia.

The Crimean authorities have denounced the self-proclaimed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The Crimea authorities have asked Russia to provide assistance to ensure peace and order in the region.

Crimeans began protesting after the new Kiev authorities introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages for official purposes in Ukraine. More than half the Crimean population is Russian and uses only this language for their communication.

Facts you need to know about Crimea and why it is in turmoil

Under the Russian-Ukrainian Partition Treaty determining the fate of the military bases and vessels in Crimea – signed in 1997 and prolonged in 2010 – Russia is allowed to have up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems (with a caliber smaller than 100 mm), 132 armored vehicles, and 22 military planes, on the peninsula’s territory. The Russian Black Sea fleet is allowed to stay in Crimea until 2042. Moscow annually writes off $97.75 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and radio frequencies, and to compensate for the Black Sea Fleet’s environmental impact.

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Turkey grants US warship permission to enter Black Sea

The aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush

Turkey has given a US Navy Warship the green light to pass through the Bosphorus within the next two days as tensions in Ukraine’s Crimea region continue to divide world powers.

Turkish sources, speaking with the Hurriyet Daily News on Wednesday, declined to elaborate on the name of the US warship. The same officials told the daily on condition of anonymity that the ship in question was not the USS George H.W. Bush nuclear aircraft carrier as suggested in some news reports, as it did not meet the standards specified by the 1936 Montreux Convention in terms of weight.

The US vessel to pass through the straits will meet the convention’s standards, the sources said.

On Wednesday, the Russian Black Sea Fleet Staff confirmed to the Itar-Tass news agency that a US destroyer was expected to enter the Black Sea later this week.

On Sunday, Tass reported that the guided-missile frigate USS Taylor, one of two Navy ships assigned to the Black Sea during the Sochi Winter Olympics was still in the Turkish Black Sea port of Samsun. The frigate was deployed on February 5 along with the amphibious command ship, USS Mount Whitney. According to the Montreux Convention, warships of countries which do not border the Black Sea cannot remain in the waters for longer than 21 days. While the USS Mount Whitney left on February 25, the USS Taylor remained at the Turkish port, ostensibly for repairs after running aground on February 12.

The US Navy Warship USS Taylor.

Meanwhile, it was reported on Tuesday that two Russian warships entered the Black Sea through the Bosphorus. The 150 ‘Saratov’ landing ship and the 156 ‘Yamal’ assault ship crossed the strait around 05:30 GMT, en route to the Black Sea, the Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.

No coastguard boats were seen escorting the ships. The Ukrainian Hetman Sahaydachny followed shortly thereafter, crossing the Dardanelles Strait off Turkey’s west coast. Two coastguard vessels were reported by AA to be escorting the ship.

The vessel, which had participated in NATO-led Ocean Shield and Atalanta counter-piracy operations, reportedly docked near Odessa port on Wednesday, says the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

The traffic through the Turkish straits comes as tensions between the West and Russia over recent events in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, continue to simmer.

Russia currently leases a military wharf and shore installations in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. The Ukrainian government agreed to extend Russia’s lease on the territory in 2010, allowing the Russian Black Sea Fleet to effectively stay in Crimea until 2047.

Five Russian naval units are currently stationed in the port city of Sevastopol, including the 30th Surface Ship Division, the 41st Missile Boat Brigade, the 247th Separate Submarine Division, the 68th Harbor Defense Ship, and the 422nd Separate Hydrographic Ship Division.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the military personnel of the Black Sea Fleet are “in their deployment sites” and “additional vigilance measures were taken to safeguard the sites.”

“We will do everything to prevent bloodshed,” he said, speaking ahead of his first face-to-face meeting with his US counterpart, John Kerry, since the crisis erupted.

USS Mount Whitney

Over a week after the government of Viktor Yanukovich was toppled by violent street protests, fears of deepening political and social strife have been particularly acute in Ukraine’s pro-Russian east and south.

One day after voting to oust Yanukovich, a newly reconfigured parliament did away with a 2012 law on minority languages, which permitted the use of two official languages in regions where the size of an ethnic minority exceeds 10 percent.

Apart from the Russian-majority regions affected by this law, Hungarian, Moldovan and Romanian also lost their status as official languages in several towns in Western Ukraine.

Authorities in the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea – where over half the population is ethnically Russian – requested Moscow’s assistance following the legal downgrade of the Russian language.

Western states have accused Russia of militarily intervening in Crimea and called on Russian troops to return to their Black Sea bases. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) recently dispatched military observers to Kiev. The observers from the pan-European security body are en route to Crimea, where they will monitor the situation on the ground.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated President Putin’s previous words that Russian troops had not actually been deployed from their bases in Crimea. Lavrov said that forces with unmarked uniforms which had taken de-facto control over Crimea are self-defense units that are not under Russia’s auspices.

“If they are the self-defense forces created by the inhabitants of Crimea, we have no authority over them,” Lavrov told a news conference in Madrid after a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

“They do not receive orders [from us],” he said.

On Saturday, the Russian Federation Council – the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia – approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to send the country’s military forces to Ukraine to ensure peace and order in the region “until the socio-political situation in the country is stabilized.”

According to the bilateral agreement concerning Russia’s Black Sea Fleet military bases in Crimea, Moscow is allowed to have up to 25,000 troops in Ukraine.

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OSCE military observer mission en route to Crimea

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is sending a delegation which includes representatives from the US and 14 other nations to observe the situation in Crimea amid tensions in Ukraine, according to a US official.

Daniel Baer, the chief US delegate to the OSCE, told the Associated Press that each country is sending two individuals, bringing the total number of observers to 30. Baer added that the military observer mission is set to leave within 24 hours and hinted that other countries main still join.

The OSCE comprises of Russia, the US, all European countries, and some central Asian nations. It is based on consensus, meaning that the majority of the monitoring missions need full approval by all nations – including OSCE member Russia. According to Baer, Ukraine used the provision to ask other countries to send unarmed military monitors.

OSCE officials were already in Ukraine on Tuesday and making their way to Crimea, Baer said. The officials specialize in minority rights and freedom of the media.

The delegation has a week-long mandate that can be extended if Ukraine requests it. One of its main focuses is to concentrate on the potential of a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Baer also added that the the military observer mission is a “broad-based monitoring effort” that will try to prevent a possible “military incursion” and encourage dialogue. The observers will keep an eye out for “areas where there has been tension or uncertainty has arisen over lack of clarity over military movements.”

RT news producer Lida Vasilevskaya reported on Tuesday evening that the OSCE delegation had arrived in Simferopol, Ukraine, but said they were not giving any comments to the media.

Tensions in Crimea became heated after the Ukrainian parliament voted to repeal a law which gave regional status to the Russian language. Authorities in Crimea requested Moscow’s assistance and Crimean authorities denounced the coup-imposed government in Kiev, declaring that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The majority of troops in Crimea switched sides in favor of local authorities.

More than half of the Crimean population are ethnically Russian and use only the Russian language for their communication. The residents have announced they will hold a referendum on March 30 to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin clarified the country’s stance on Ukraine in an interview on Tuesday. He stated that Russia will not go to war with the people of Ukraine, but will use its troops to protect citizens if radicals with clout in Kiev try to use violence against Ukrainian civilians – particularly ethnic Russians.

Putin, who was given a mandate by the Russian Senate to send troops in order to protect the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, said there is no need for such action yet.

Putin cited the actions of radical activists in Ukraine – including the chaining of a governor to a stage as public humiliation and the killing of a technician during an opposition siege of the Party of Regions headquarters – as justification for Russia to be concerned for the lives and well-being of people in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Incidents like those are why Russia reserves the option of troop deployment.

“If we see this lawlessness starting in eastern regions, if the people ask us for help – in addition to a plea from a legitimate president, which we already have – then we reserve the right to use all the means we possess to protect those citizens. And we consider it quite legitimate,” Putin said.

Russia’s representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, also said on Tuesday that the deal surrounding the Black Sea Fleet allows Russia to station a contingent of up to 25,000 troops in Ukraine.

According to the initial agreement, the Russian Black Sea Fleet was to stay in Crimea until 2017, but the deal was later prolonged for another 25 years.

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Russia allowed to have 25,000 troops in Crimea since 1999… & other facts you may not know

Ukrainian marines look at a Russian ship floating out of the Sevastopol bay on March 4, 2014

Ukraine’s statement at the UN that 16,000 Russian soldiers have been deployed to Crimea has caused a frenzy among Western media which chooses to ignore that those troops have been there since the late 1990s in accordance with a Kiev-Moscow agreement.

Western media describes the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as if a full-scale Russian invasion were under way, with headlines like: “Ukraine says Russia sent 16,000 troops to Crimea” and “Ukraine crisis deepens as Russia sends more troops into Crimea,” as well as “What can Obama do about Russia’s invasion of Crimea?”

It seems they have chosen to simply ignore the fact that those Russian troops have been stationed in Crimea for over a decade.

Russia’s representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, reminded on Tuesday that the deal surrounding the Black Sea Fleet allows Russia to station a contingent of up to 25,000 troops in Ukraine. However, US and British media have mostly chosen to turn a deaf ear.

People watch a Russian Navy ship enter the Crimean port city of Sevastopol March 2, 2014

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underlined that the country’s military “strictly executes the agreements which stipulate the Russian fleet’s presence in Ukraine, and follows the stance and claims coming from the legitimate authority in Ukraine and in this case the legitimate authority of the Autonomous Republic Crimea as well.”

So here are the facts, numbers, and details of this long-standing (but rarely cited) deal:

1) The Black Sea Fleet has been disputed between Russia and Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union back in 1991.

2) In 1997, the sides finally managed to find common ground and signed three agreements determining the fate of the military bases and vessels in Crimea. Two years later, in 1999, the Russian and Ukrainian parliaments ratified them. Russia has received 81.7 percent of the fleet’s ships after paying the Ukrainian government a compensation of US$526.5 million.

3) Moscow also annually writes off $97.75 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and radio frequency resources, and for the environmental impact caused by the Black Sea Fleet’s operations.

4) According to the initial agreement, the Russian Black Sea Fleet was to stay in Crimea until 2017, but the deal was later prolonged for another 25 years.

5) The 1997 deal allows the Russian navy to have up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems with a caliber smaller than 100 mm, 132 armored vehicles, and 22 military planes on Crimean territory.

Ukrainian marines look at a Russian ship floating out of the Sevastopol bay on March 4, 2014

6) In compliance with those accords, there are currently five Russian naval units stationed in the port city of Sevastopol in the Crimean peninsula:

The 30th Surface Ship Division formed by the 11th Antisubmarine Ship Brigade, which includes the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship guard missile cruiser Moskva as well as Kerch, Ochakov, Smetlivy, Ladny, and Pytlivy vessels, and the 197th Landing Ship Brigade, consisting of seven large amphibious vessels;

The 41st Missile Boat Brigade, which includes the 166th Fast Attack Craft Division, consisting of Bora and Samum hovercrafts as well as small missile ships Mirazh and Shtil, and 295th missile Boat Division;

The 247th Separate Submarine Division, consisting of two diesel submarines – B-871 Alrosa and B-380 Svyatoy Knyaz Georgy;

The 68th Harbor Defense Ship Brigade formed by the 400th Antisubmarine Ship Battalion of four vessels and 418 Mine Hunting Ship Division, which consist of four ships as well;

The 422nd Separate Hydrographic Ship Division, which includes Cheleken, Stvor, Donuzlav and GS-402 survey vessels as well as a group of hydrographic boats.

7) Besides the naval units, Moscow also has two airbases in Crimea, which are situated in the towns of Kacha and Gvardeysky.

8) The Russian coastal forces in Ukraine consist of the 1096th Separate Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment in Sevastopol and the 810th Marine Brigade, which hosts around 2,000 marines. (Several other coastal units of the Black Sea Fleet are located in Russia’s Krasnodar Region, including the 11th Separate Coastal Missile Brigade in Anapa, the 382th Separate Marine Battalion, and a naval reconnaissance station in Temryuk).

Last week, Russia’s Federation Council unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to send the country’s military forces to Ukraine to ensure peace and order in the region “until the socio-political situation in the country is stabilized.”

However, the final say about deploying troops lies with Putin, who hasn’t yet made such a decision, stressing that deploying military force would be a last resort.

Authorities in the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea – where more than half the population is Russian – requested Moscow’s assistance after the self-proclaimed government in Kiev introduced a law abolishing the use of languages other than Ukrainian in official circumstances.

People watch a Russian Navy ship enter the Crimean port city of Sevastopol March 2, 2014

 

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Russia gives Ukrainian forces in Crimea ultimatum to surrender – Interfax

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, and the commander of the Western Military District Anatoly Sidorov, right, walk upon arrival to watch military exercise near St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, March 3, 2014. Putin has sought and quickly got the Russian parliament's permission to use the Russian military in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, and the commander of the Western Military District Anatoly Sidorov, right, walk upon arrival to watch military exercise near St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, March 3, 2014. Putin has sought and quickly got the Russian parliament’s permission to use the Russian military in Ukraine.

(Reuters) – Russia‘s Black Sea Fleet has told Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Tuesday or face a military assault, Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defence Ministry as saying.

 

The ultimatum, Interfax said, was issued by Alexander Vitko, the fleet’s commander.

 

The ministry did not immediately confirm the report and there was no immediate comment by the Black Sea Fleet, which has a base in Crimea, where Russian forces are in control.

“If they do not surrender before 5 a.m. tomorrow, a real assault will be started against units and divisions of the armed forces across Crimea,” the agency quoted the ministry source as saying.

 

 

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Putin: Russian citizens, troops threatened in Ukraine, need armed forces’ protection

russian defense minister sergei shoigu

russian defense minister sergei shoigu

Russian President Vladimir Putin has requested the use of Russian military forces in Ukraine to settle the situation there. The Russian population and the Crimea-based Black Sea Fleet are threatened by the situation in the country, he said.

Facts you need to know about Crimea and why it is in turmoil

Putin’s request was filed after the Chairman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, said that in order to “protect the people” Russia could theoretically send troops to Ukraine. She particularly referred to the crisis in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, where Russians make the majority of the population.

“It’s possible in this situation, complying with a request by the Crimean government, even to bring a limited contingent of our troops to ensure the safety of the Black Sea Fleet and the Russian citizens living on Crimean territory. The decision is for the president, the chief military commander, to make, of course. But today, taking the situation into account, even that variant can’t be excluded. We need to protect the people,” Matvienko said.

The Russian government has so far been careful in its assessment of the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian government in Kiev. Matvienko said the reason for that was Russia counting on its Western partners, who vowed to guarantee the February 21 agreements between ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition.

“Russia did not interfere in the situation in Ukraine for a very long time and showed restraint, assuming that the Western states, which became backers of the agreements, would see that strict compliance with the deal is observed,” she said.

However, after “violent upheaval” took place in Ukraine, the Western states did not come up with “any reasonable measures or responses,” Matvienko said.

Russia, in contrast, for a very long time has urged the situation to be resolved by lawful means, and called for the anti-coup sentiments in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine to be heard, she said.

“Not seeing an adequate reaction from the West, we could no longer maintain status quo,” the speaker concluded.

Matvienko spoke as thousands of pro-Russian demonstrators rallied in the Crimean cities of Simferopol, Melitopol, Yevpatoria and Mariupol, protesting against the rule of new Kiev authorities.

The Russian leader held detailed phone discussions on “various aspects of the extraordinary situation in Ukraine” with US President Barack Obama, the Kremlin press service reported.

Putin stressed that in the case of further spread of violence in the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea, Russia reserves the right to protect their interests and the Russian speaking population.

Putin emphasised the existence of real threats to the life and health of Russian citizens on Ukrainian territory.

In a separate conversation with French President Francois Hollande, Putin said that there is a real threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, Itar-tass reports.

The Russian commander in chief also held a telephone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the case of an escalation of violence against the Russian-speaking population in the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea, the Kremlin announced.

Putin stressed that Russia cannot remain on the sidelines and will apply the necessary measures within the framework of international law to prevent further escalation of the crisis in Ukraine.

According to the Russian Constitution, the use of Army on foreign territories can only be approved by the majority of the Federation Council members upon a request by the President.

Pro-Russian protesters wave Russian flags during a rally in the industrial Ukrainian city of Donetsk on March 1, 2014.

The developments follow an appeal by the Prime Minister of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, who requested that Russia to help cope with the crisis and ensure “peace and calm” in the region.

The tension in Crimea escalated following an attempt to seize the building of the local Interior Ministry by gunmen overnight. Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the move in a statement, blaming the new authorities in Kiev for intending to “destabilize the situation on the peninsula.

Meanwhile, self-proclaimed Ukrainian Acting President Aleksandr Turchinov has signed a decree ruling that appointment of the pro-Russia premier in Crimea is “illegal.”

Aksyonov, who is the leader of Crimea’s Russian Unity party, was appointed as the new Prime Minister of the autonomy after the Crimean Supreme Council dismissed the regional government. Peace and order in the region has been maintained by local armed self-defense squads, which were widely misreported as Russian troops on Friday.

Massive media speculation also arose around claims that the Russian military have been making “illegal” moves in Crimea. The Russian Foreign Ministry sent an official note to Ukraine, stressing that all the moves are carried out “in full accordance with basic Russian-Ukrainian agreements on the Black Sea Fleet.”

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Movement of Russian armored vehicles in Crimea fully complies with agreements – Foreign Ministry

Russian military vessels are anchored at a navy base in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, February 27, 2014

The movements of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s armored vehicles in Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea are in full compliance with Russian-Ukrainian agreements, Moscow has said.

Russia has passed a note regarding the maneuvers to a minister-counselor at Ukraine’s embassy in Moscow, Ruslan Nimchinsky, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.

On Thursday, the Russian charge d’affaires in Kiev, Andrey Vorobyev, was summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and handed two diplomatic notes – one on the latest events in Ukraine and one asking Russia’s Black Sea fleet units to abstain from movements outside their deployment sites.

“The Russian Foreign Ministry has passed an reply to the Ukrainian side on the movement of the Black Sea Fleet armored vehicles in Crimea, which is caused by the necessity to provide security for the Black Sea fleet’s naval deployment areas on Ukrainian territory, which happens in full accordance with basic Russian-Ukrainian agreements on the Black Sea Fleet,” a statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website reads.

Meanwhile, the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s press service dismissed reports that Russian troops were blocking Belbek airport near the port of Sevastopol in Crimea.

“No units of the Black Sea Fleet were deployed in the area of Belbek [airport], nor did they take any part in blocking it,” a statement from the fleet’s press service reads.

The comment followed reports in some media that the airport was being patrolled by a group of unidentified armed people. It was alleged that Russian troops arrived to “prevent the arrival of some militants,” Interfax news agency reported.

On Friday evening, Crimean self-defense squads raided the international airport in the republic’s capital, Simferopol, searching for Ukrainian airborne troops. They found no military personnel inside, but are still patrolling the grounds of the airport. Airport security said the squads are helping to ensure safety at the airport.

Crimea events result of Ukraine’s internal policies – Moscow

Russia says that the latest developments in Crimea come as a result of internal political processes in Ukraine.

“The Russian side considers the events on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea a consequence of recent internal political processes in Ukraine and, in that context, sees no necessity to hold urgent bilateral consultations which were proposed by the Ukrainian side,” the Foreign Ministry said after a meeting with Ruslan Nimchinsky.

On Friday, Russian diplomats met in Moscow with Nimchinsky, and handed him a reply. Earlier, Kiev proposed holding urgent bilateral consultations on the events in Crimea – based on the Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership signed in 1997.

via Movement of Russian armored vehicles in Crimea fully complies with agreements – Foreign Ministry — RT News.

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12 Signs That Russia Is Ready To Fight A War Over Crimea

russia army

By Michael Snyder

Russia will never, ever give up Crimea without a fight.  Anyone that thinks otherwise is just being delusional.  The Russian Black Sea fleet’s main base at Sevastopol is far too strategically important.  In addition, ethnic Russians make up approximately 60 percent of the population of Crimea, and most of the population is rabidly pro-Russian.  In fact, many prominent Crimean politicians are already calling for reunification with Russia.  So if you have been thinking that Russia is just going to fold up shop and go home now that pro-European protesters have violently seized power in Kiev, you can quit holding your breath.  The truth is that Russia is more than willing to fight a war over Crimea.  And considering the fact that vitally important pipelines that pump natural gas from Russia to the rest of Europe go right through Ukraine, it is not likely that Russia will just willingly hand the rest of Ukraine over to the U.S. and the EU either.  If the U.S. and the EU push too hard in Ukraine, a major regional war may erupt which could ultimately lead to something much larger.

Russia and Ukraine have very deep historical ties.  Most Americans may not think that Ukraine is very important, but the Russians consider Ukraine to be of the utmost strategic importance.

As an American, how would you feel if another nation funded and organized the violent overthrow of the democratically-elected Canadian government and replaced it with a government that was virulently anti-American?

By doing this to Ukraine, the United States and the EU are essentially sticking a pin in Russia’s eye.  Needless to say, Russia is extremely angry at this point and they are gearing up for war.

Vladimir Putin, Sergei Shoigu

The following are 12 signs that Russia is ready to fight a war over Crimea…

1 More Russian military vehicles continue to pour into Crimea.  Just check out this video.

2 Russian military vehicles have been photographed in the main square of Sevastopol.

3 Russian military jets near the border with Ukraine have been put on combat alert.

4 Russia has ordered “surprise military exercises” along the Ukrainian border.

5 In connection with those “exercises”, it is being reported that Russia has deployed 150,000 troops along the border with Ukraine.

6 Russia already has approximately 26,000 troops stationed at their naval base in Sevastopol.

7 Russian ships carrying additional soldiers have been spotted off the coast of Crimea…

Russia’s large landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov has arrived near the Russia Black Sea Fleet’s base at Sevastopol, which Russia has leased from Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The ship is reported to be carrying as many as 200 soldiers and has joined four additional ships carrying an unknown amount of Special Forces troops. Flot.com also reported over the weekend that personnel from the 45th Airborne Special Forces unit and additional divisions had been airlifted into Anapa, a city on Russia’s Black Sea coastline.

8 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the following statement to reporters on Wednesday…

“Measures are taken to guarantee the security of our facilities.”

9 An unidentified Russian official has told the Financial Times that Russia is willing to use military force to protect Crimea…

Moscow earlier revealed that it would be ready to go for war over the Crimea region in order to protect the large population and army installations.

“If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war. They will lose Crimea first [because] we will go in and protect [it], just as we did in Georgia,” an unidentified Russian official told the Financial Times.

10 Officials in Sevastopol have “installed” a Russian citizen as mayor of the city.

11 Approximately 120 pro-Russian gunmen have seized the Crimean parliament building and have raised the Russian flag.

12 There are rumors that Russian authorities have offered protection to ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych…

Viktor F. Yanukovych, the ousted president of Ukraine, declared on Thursday that he remained the lawful president of the country and appealed to Russia to “secure my personal safety from the actions of extremists.” Russian news agencies reported that he had already arrived in Russia, but officials did not immediately confirm that.

No matter what the “new government” in Kiev says, and no matter how hard the U.S. and the EU push, Russia will never give up Crimea.  The following is what a recent Debka article had to say about the matter…

There is no way that President Vladimir Putin will relinquish Russian control of the Crimean peninsula and its military bases there – or more particularly the big Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol. This military stronghold is the key to Russia’s Middle East policy. If it is imperiled, so too are Russia’s military posture in Syria and its strategic understandings with Iran.

And you know what?

The people of Crimea do not want Russia to leave either.  In fact, they overwhelmingly want Russia to help defend them against the “new government” in Kiev.

As you read this, militia groups are being formed in Crimea to fight back against the “nationalist invasion” that they are anticipating.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article

Many of the people at the rally in Sevastopol were not just ready to believe. They were convinced of the imminent nationalist invasion. What scared them most were the right-wing political parties and militant groups that have played a role in Ukraine’s revolution. “What do you think they’re going to do with all those weapons they seized from police in Kiev? They’re going to come here and make war,” said Sergei Bochenko, who identified himself as the commander of a local militia group in Sevastopol called the Southern Russian Cossack Battalion.

In preparation, he said, his group of several hundred men had armed themselves with assault rifles and begun to train for battle. “There’s not a chance in hell we’re going to accept the rule of that fascist scum running around in Kiev with swastikas,” he said. That may be overstating the case. Nowhere in Ukraine has the uprising involved neo-Nazi groups, and no swastikas have appeared on the revolution’s insignia. But every one of the dozen or so people TIME spoke to in Sevastopol was certain that the revolt was run by fascists, most likely on the payroll of the U.S. State Department.

And just remember what happened back in 2008 in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The Russians have already shown that they are not afraid to militarily intervene in order to protect Russian citizens.

So what would the U.S. and the EU do if a war erupts between Russia and Ukraine?

Would they risk a direct military confrontation with Russia in order to help Ukraine?

I am very concerned about where all of this could be heading.

Tom O’Halloran.

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