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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Moscow Mayor Questions Ukraine’s Sovereignty Over Sevastopol — Again (Updated)

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov: In 1954, Sevastopol was not included in the list of oblasts, in the list of territories that Khrushchev transferred over to Ukraine. And we say that this issue has remained unsolved and that we will be solving it…to the benefit of state positions and state law that Russia has with regard to her naval base in Sevastopol.

As Kyivites built castles in the sky on Europe Day, Crimeans celebrated the 225th Anniversary of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The list of VIP guests included Moscow’s perennial mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, a distinguished Ukrainophobe and a vocal fan of Viktor Yanukovych. With this in mind, the Ukrainian Security Service, SBU, had handed a cautionary note to Mr. Luzhkov, advising him against misconduct. And all for naught, prompting the SBU to declare Luzhkov persona non grata.

While the SBU has been playing cat and mouse with similar-minded high-profile Russian tourists for years, the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry prefers to play “see no evil, hear no evil.”

According to Moscow, Luzhkov had simply voiced the opinion of a majority of Russians. Moscow called Ukraine’s move unfriendly, which may indicate an impending diplomatic row, breaking the yearlong truce in the persona non grata warfare between the two countries. Usually, the Kremlin vents its wrath on Orange Ukrainians, who have never challenged Russia’s territorial integrity, but, rather, have opposed its foreign policy.

Now, can you imagine a New York mayor who visits a US military base in Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea or Cuba and questions the host country’s sovereignty?

Perhaps Ukraine should declare itself the sole successor to Kyivan Rus and should seek the reincorporation of Moscow into Ukraine. Germany could claim Kaliningrad, and Mongolia could claim Kazan. Russia could claim Alaska, and France could claim Louisiana. Should I continue?

As predicted, Russia has "avenged" Luzhkov. Russian authorities on Thursday deported MP Vladyslav Kaskiv, NUNS, citing national security laws. Kaskiv, an Orange Revolution activist, had landed in Sheremetyevo-2 to spar with Zhirinovsky in an NTV talk show.

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Anonymous said...

Here's a suggestion:

Luzhkov has a mansion in London, a few doors down from Olena Franchuk's mansion (the daughter of ex-President Kuchma).

Maybe the people in Sevastopol should see pictures of Luzhkov's London mansion.

Luzhkov should stay in London and sip tea with Boris Berezovsky.

Luzhkov should definitely be banned from Ukraine.

Taras said...

Good point, Elmer!

Since they’re neighbors, why not invite Luzhkov and Zhirinovsky as guest speakers to this year’s meeting of the Yalta European Strategy? Luzhkov would be talking Crimea, and Zhirinovsky would be hunting crows.

Anonymous said...

"Uprising In Crimea

Putin thus hinted that Ukrainian resistance to Russian limits on its freedom of action might be met with a Russian backed "Kosovo-like" scenario -- a nationalist uprising in Crimea to which Russia could not remain indifferent. Obviously, Moscow has the political and covert means to create in Crimea the very type of situations against which Putin offered to "protect" Ukraine if the Russian fleet's basing rights are institutionalized. Such means have included inflammatory visits and speeches by Russian Duma deputies to Crimea, challenges to Ukraine's control of Tuzla Island in the Kerch Strait, and the fanning of "anti-NATO" -- in fact anti-American -- protests by ethnic-Russian groups in connection with military exercises and artificial Russian-Tatar tensions on the peninsula.

Russia is also augmenting its capabilities for such covert subversion by instituting a substantial program whereby it gives soldiers and officers in the Transdniester "army," which occupies part of Moldova, Russian military-service passports and rotating them through elite Russian officer training courses called Vystrel at the combined-arms training center in Solnechegorsk.

"You do not try to cover up a training program of this size unless you are someday planning on using these people to overthrow or otherwise take control of a sovereign government," an intelligence officer from a post-Soviet country recently told U.S. analyst Reuben Johnson in 2006. "The facility at Solnechegorsk is used by Russia to train numerous non-Russian military personnel openly and legally for peacekeeping and other joint operations. If then, in parallel, you are training officers from these disputed regions -- officers that are pretending to be Russian personnel and carrying bogus paperwork -- then it does not take an enormous leap of faith to assume that Moscow is up to no good on this one.""


Anonymous said...

Sorry - forget best bit.

"Ultimately, as analysts John Roper and Peter Van Ham have written, "The main reason why the West cannot remain complacent about Russia's actions is the fact that Russia's 'near abroad' is, in many cases, also democratic Europe's near abroad.""


Anonymous said...

Moscow keeps using history as a reason for Crimea's "rejoining" Russia, even though it has failed countless times. Remember Rogozin's claim that Tuzla Island was "watered by the blood of Russian Don Cossacks" ...?

MedPutin would be, and will be, far more successful in using the Kosovo precedent to entertain the the idea of sovereignty, succession and independence for Crimea.

Taras said...

On the one hand, we can’t always assume that Moscow’s bark is simply worse that its bite.
We should be prepared to deal with armed conflict scenarios. But, on the other hand, is it worth it? Хотят ли русские войны? Would the gains justify the losses?

Just imagine it: all those ravaged Russian oligarchs’ mansions, a ruptured South Stream, no gas supplies to Europe, no investments in Russia’s energy sector.

We already had a dose of Russian irredentism in Crimea in the first part of the 90s. Does anybody remember Crimean President Yuri Meshkov?

Sevastopol is de jure and de facto Ukrainian territory, on which Russia rents a naval base. The rental agreement expires in 2017. Unless Ukraine expressly agrees to an extension, the Russian Black Sea Fleet will have to vacate Sevastopol. Ukraine has no plans to deport the Russian population, and Russia has the money to relocate its fleet to Novorossiysk.

To the Kremlin, Sevastopol carries more of a symbolic rather than military value. Yet any attempts to challenge Ukraine’s sovereignty over Sevastopol using force should lawfully result in force being used by Ukraine in self-defense.

Of course, our army sux in many ways. But we still have just about every other conventional weapons system Russia has. Wanna be our guest?

Ukraine and Russia should therefore work together to make the scheduled departure as face-saving as possible.

Luida, I’d prefer being "aboard" to being in the “near abroad:)”

Leopolis, I remember Zhirinovsky yearning to have Russian soldiers wash their boots in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean!

He obviously overlooked China. I can’t help but think that, given today’s demographic projections, by 2017 Russia may want to join NATO.