NIGHTWATCH: Ukraine-Crimea Update

06 Russia, 08 Wild Cards

Russia-US: The Russian president’s website posted the following summary of talks between the Russian and US presidents.

“Text of report in English by Russian presidential website on 6 March”

“A telephone conversation has taken place between Vladimir Putin and the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, on the initiative of the American side.”

“It was proposed to discuss a critical situation developed in Ukraine. During the discussion the differences in approaches and assessments of the causes of today’s crisis and the current state of affairs [in Ukraine] were brought to light.”

“Vladimir Putin, in particular, noted that the current Ukrainian authorities, which came to power as a result of an anti-constitutional coup and which do not have a nationwide mandate, have been forcing their absolutely illegitimate decisions on eastern and southeastern regions and Crimea. Russia cannot ignore appeals for help addressed to it in this connection and is acting adequately and in full conformity with international law.”

“The Russian president stressed a paramount importance of Russian-US relations in ensuring stability and security in the world. These relations should not be sacrificed to differences about certain international problems even if they are quite significant.”

“The heads of the two states agreed that the heads of the foreign offices, Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry, will remain in intensive contact.”

Comment: Putin succinctly restated the Russian position which has not changed since 22 February.

The fourth paragraph is condescending in that it minimizes the Ukraine crisis as a difference of opinion and presumes equal stature with the US in handling larger international issues. It comes close to asking why the US is so upset and to lecturing the US president on the issues about which he really should be concerned. Putin is way out of his league.

Crimea: Military. The Russian navy sank the mothballed Ochakov, an anti-submarine ship belonging to the Black Sea Fleet, at the entrance to Lake Donuzlav overnight 5 March, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

Comment: This action blocks the channel. It denies the Kyiv regime use of its ships and frees up Russian ships that had blockaded the port. News service reports said Russia had been using 10 ships to block the port, including the guided missile cruiser Moskva.

Crimea: Political. Crimea’s lawmakers on Thursday unanimously voted to ask to be a part of Russia and set 16 March as the date for a popular referendum on secession.

The Crimean members of the regional parliament asked Russian President Vladimir Putin the allow them to “enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation.”

The referendum will contain two questions: whether Crimea should join Russia or whether it should remain part of Ukraine.

The city council of Sevastopol also voted in an emergency session to join Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation. Sevastopol is governed directly from Kyiv as a national city.

Comment: The referendum will not contain an obvious third choice – to become independent. One commentator suggested the reason for the omission is that most Crimeans would probably vote for independence.

Ukrainian reaction:: Ukrainian prime minister Yatsenyuk called the Crimean parliament’s act “illegitimate.”

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) press service reported that the SBU is charging Vladimir Konstantinov, chairman of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Supreme Council; and Sergey Aksenov, “self-proclaimed” head of the republic Council of Ministers, with committing actions aimed at violently changing or overthrowing the constitutional order or at seizing state power. These crimes come under Articles 27 and 109 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, according to the press release.

Comment: Both sides continue to take actions that are difficult to reverse and which make the crisis more difficult to settle peaceably.

Phi Beta Iota: We strongly disagree with the comment above that Russia is “out of its league” in relation to the US Government’s ham-fisted and ignorant approach to this entire matter.

See Also:

09 Russia. Russia Experts See Thinning Ranks’ Effect on U.S. Policy

Among those experts, there is a belief that a dearth of talent in the field and ineffectual management from the White House have combined to create an unsophisticated and cartoonish view of a former superpower, and potential threat, that refuses to be relegated to the ash heap of history.

Ukraine @ Phi Beta Iota