Fears of conflict as tensions rise around the Black Sea

August 27, 2008

The US Coast Guard Cutter Dallas is seen docked at the Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi August 27, 2008. The US Coast Guard Cutter Dallas unloaded aid hygiene kits and baby food for the tens of thousands displaced by the confrontation that erupted on Aug. 7-8 over Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region.Tension is mounting around the Black Sea following Russia’s recognition of two Georgian regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as independent states.  

Russia said its navy was monitoring “the build-up of NATO forces in the Black Sea area” as the U.S. Navy shipped humanitarian supplies to Georgia on Wednesday.

In a move that could further aggravate Russia, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said he wanted to discuss charging Russia more for the lease of a naval base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, which is part of Ukraine.   

Ukrainian leaders say they fear they might be next on Russia’s hit list, a concern echoed by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. He told France’s Europe 1 radio: “I repeat that it is very dangerous, and there are other objectives that one can suppose are objectives for Russia, in particular the Crimea, Ukraine and Moldova.”

Analysts say the Crimea region, in southern Ukraine, could be used by Russia to destabilise Ukraine. Not only does it host Russia’s Black Sea fleet, but the majority of people living there are ethnic Russians.                                                            

It would not be the first time Crimea has been at the heart of a war. The territory has been conquered many times and has been controlled by people including Goths, Huns, Bulgars and Greeks. 

The Russian Empire lost the Crimean War of 1854-1856 against an alliance of France, Britain, the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire but the war is regarded by many Russians as a glorious defeat.

Crimea was again the scene of heavy fighting during World War Two, when it was occupied by Nazi Germany and Sevastopol was under siege from October 1941 until it succumbed in July 1942. Its resistance is regarded by many Russians as a heroic struggle against the odds.

Eighteenth-century Empress Catherine the Great built the neo-classical port at Sevastopol to house the Russian Navy after taking decades to conquer the Crimean region. The pride and joy of the Russian military, the region was granted to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954. After the Soviet Union fell, Moscow was forced to lease the harbour space under a deal that expires in 2017.  Women greet the first Russian navy ship in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol as it returns from its operation at Georgia’s sea border August 22, 2008. The first Russian navy ship returned to base in the Black Sea on Friday from operations against Georgia.

Could this region — a popular holiday destination because of its green mountains, deep-blue sea and sunny climate — really be at the heart of a new war as Ukraine seeks membership of NATO and the European Union?

Ukrainian politicians say Russia’s actions in Georgia are unacceptable and they fear the worst. “What has happened is a threat to everyone, not just for one country. Any nation could be next, any country. When we allow someone to ignore the fundamental right of territorial integrity, we put into doubt the existence of any country,” Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said on Wednesday.  

Moscow says Ukrainian politicians are trying to antagonise Moscow. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin accused Kiev on Wednesday of stirring tensions and hinted that some politicians wanted to trigger a tough response from Moscow to boost their own standing. “This is a cynical and dangerous game,” he said.  

Political analysts acknowledge tensions are running high but say there is good cause to hope conflict can be avoided. “There is a reason to be wary in the short-term future, there is a threat in that Ukraine is similar to Georgia in terms of what has happened in recent years,” said one analyst, Oleksander Dergachev. “But I find it difficult to think that the threat posed is a military one. Russia relies on the fact that it has more of an influence over Ukraine economically.”


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In the pass XIX century Texas were part of Mexico, but was annex to USA, the americans said Texas was few mexican an has many americans living in Texas, this fact gave right to take the state away from Mexico and joint to USA. This history have similaritys with Osetia and Crimea. Ok is XXI century and the pass is over.

Posted by Jorge Rodriguez | Report as abusive

NATO ships approaching Poti will be fired upon and destroyed.

This is Russia’s backyard. If u mess with us, u will get it.

Posted by noyb | Report as abusive

i am an american. i am a slovak. orthodox faith.

small world is it not.

this was an article on russian baseball squad
going over to us.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/bbw/2001- 09-05/2001-09-05-clubhouse.htm

Posted by dan | Report as abusive

I hope the media will seriously question why the world is still engaged in imperialist notions of drawing maps based on perceived sectarian, ethnic, or racial identify? Kosovo’s independence was recognized based on foreign notions of their sectarian and ethnic identify. Serbia and Russia rightfully condemned that effort as imperialism. Kosovo was thus created in spite of strong Serbian protests over their “territorial integrity,” which was internationally recognized.

Redrawing maps based on imperialistic notions of sectarian, ethnic or racial identification is often associated with ethnic cleansing, as occurred in Kosovo. Who then is at fault? I would point directly to US imperialists, one of whom is Senator Joe Biden. Biden is the author of a plan to partition Iraq based on sectarian and ethnic identity.

Not surprisingly Biden’s plan for Iraq was strongly condemned in Iraq, as they claimed to have had rather enough ethnic cleansing. However Biden’s plan remains US law. Now Russia has applied the “Kosovo principle” (imperialism) in recognizing the two breakaway regions of Georgia as “independent.” This was clearly done based on notions of their distinct “ethnic identity,” and in spite of strong opposition from Georgia as a violation of their territorial integrity.

Not surprisingly there has also been lots of ethnic cleansing in the two breakaway regions, which is closely associated with imperialism. Therefore in many ways this blog post is correct, we are repeating the past. Further my guess is Russian leaders knows it. The problem is the media hasn’t yet identified the rebirth of imperialism, in this case in the US, as the cause. Ominously Barack Obama has accepted Biden’s notion of the partition of Iraq based on sectarian/ethnic identity!

Posted by Chris Baker (US) | Report as abusive

Noyb – you are a monkey with no intelligence. Check the size and capability of your Navy vrs the west before you show your ignorance. RUS Navy is no match.

Posted by Demitry | Report as abusive

The Russian Bear is alive and well. Never has this country been trustworthy. Russia needs to be eliminated and buried once and for all. I feel war is around the corner with these basta-ds. This situation is very close to resembling the Cuban Missle Crisis of the 60s. I also feel we need to break off diplomatic relationship with Russia and prepare for war.

Posted by Mario | Report as abusive

of course US is dominating the world military still, it wants
to do what i wants where it wants and when it wants, but these time are cming to the end. Georgian attach on South Ossetien was the 11th of Septemer for Russia.
There is limit to the US NATO expansion.
And do not forget the weakening economy. When the recession goes deeper – tere will be no money for american imperialsm. Do not forget the US intervention in Iraf are supported by 2 vasslas – Georgia and Poland – both were well paid – app. 1 billion USD each.

Posted by monotavr | Report as abusive

Thats right imperialism wants to reign over everbody ,the UN , NATO and EU what they are really there for ,cuz in 2001 they say no to war and didnt care and went on a mission that will be until 2011 (democracy , right)…

Posted by ruben | Report as abusive

Those who use missiles to introduce democracy wherever and whenever they see fit, despite lack of any decision made by the UN Security Council, those who act against all international rules cannot demand others to respect the same rules. Pandora’s Box has been opened; the world awaits one hell of a ride.

Posted by Tasha | Report as abusive

RE: “Russia needs to be eliminated and buried once and for all. I feel war is around the corner with these basta-ds.”

Hey, Mario, or Saakashvili, whatever your real name is. Too many video games lately? Don’t worry, welcome, Comrade, to my company – I have bunch of lunatics like you in my new Putin Komsomol assembling kalashnikovs to fight for new Mother Russia. We have a five year plan on bodybags to fill. We love people like you, they help me to recruit new cr_tins for my army.

– Putin

Posted by Ostap | Report as abusive

This blog is dieing…
Pretty soon all these kids, who were posting their stupid thoughts here, will forget about Russia or Georgia or Iraq and turn back to “American Idol” and NFL playoffs. They will wash their brain clean and soon will be ready to support wholeheartedly new BS, that US mass media offers them. Say, they will stop hating Russians and start hating French. Poor kids have never read J.Orwell, in fact, they have never read anything of a value. In schools, they learn baseball history at geography class, they study nothing about WWII but Pearl Harbor at history class. And those who try to educate them certainly are enemies of the USA! At the end they will be drafted and sent to some God-forsaken country to die for enrichment of some scam from the current administration. And they never learn …
Life is boring!

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

I say to hell with it all. Let the USA and Russia and China divde the world up. Then let’s focus on MARS after two mroe have been eliminated.

Then let’s get ready to invade the next galaxy.

Posted by kiknarse | Report as abusive

Down below is Armenia, from Georgia. Then to the right is Iraq where the the U.S has expended almost 40% of it’s active forces. To the left is Iran. Not just Iran soilders, but Russian and Chinese military. For Georgia, the green light is U.S military supplying them, which is going to happen very soon. The warships in the Black Sea are preparing to do that. Russians in Georgia controlling the pipelines will see the re-supplying of the military, which the west is trying very hard not to make it public, saying that some of these warships are doing humanitarian aid will make things shift. About that time, before or after, Russia will most likely invade the U.K. If there is anything worthwhile in your lives, make the best of it.

Posted by tony vanderley | Report as abusive