Russia reopens Kerch Strait to shipping after standoff
German Chancellor Merkel a month ago proposed to check how the safety of the passage of ships through the water area of the Kerch Strait is ensured
Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to the proposal of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the admission of German and French specialists to the Kerch Strait. This was announced on January 18 by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“More than a month ago, Chancellor Merkel asked President Putin to allow German specialists to come to the Kerch Strait region and see how the passage through this water area is carried out, given that it is necessary to comply with safety standards. And President Putin immediately agreed, “Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference following talks with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Interfax reports..
The head of the Russian foreign policy department noted that some time later, Merkel asked the German specialists to come along with the French, and Putin also agreed to this. Lavrov said that Maas gave him a proposal “which packs this simple trip into a document that must be agreed with Ukraine.”.
Recall that on November 25, 2018, according to the Ukrainian side, the border ships of the Russian Federation committed aggressive actions against Ukrainian ships that were making a planned transition from the port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol in the Azov Sea.
Russia opened fire on small armored boats “Berdyansk” and “Nikopol”, they lost their speed. The Russians also forced the harbor tug “Yana Kapu” to stop.
The crew of three ships, 24 people, was captured and taken to Moscow. Ukrainian sailors were accused of violating Russian borders. They recognize themselves not as violators, but as prisoners of war.
European Union, Ukraine, Russia – the politics of addiction
Political expert, director of the Institute for Analysis and Forecasting Yuriy Lesnichy believes that Western countries do not take into account the risks and threats posed by Russian foreign policy towards Ukraine.
“In the story of the desire of German and French diplomats to see the Kerch Strait, if this is one trip, the Russians skillfully organize“ Potemkin villages ”so that the Germans can ward off the anger of the United States and the indignation of Ukraine. At the same time, Germany refuses to neutralize the US concern about the advancing Nord Stream-2, “- says Yuri Lesnichy to the correspondent of the Russian service” Voice of America “.
The expert believes that the policy of European countries in recent years is similar to “getting used to” the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
“By building Nord Stream 2, Russia is creating the conditions under which it has opportunities for new aggression against Ukraine. But neither Germany nor France, which needs a break in the story with the “yellow vests”, see nothing special in this fact. Today’s words of the representatives of Germany and France about the inspection in the Kerch Strait are perceived in the Moscow-Berlin-Paris triangle no more than a diplomatic curtsey, ”notes Yuri Lesnichy.
The buildup of the Russian military threat in areas close to the borders of Ukraine and the European Union, he said, would have been impossible with a tough Western policy.
For example, the American television channel Fox News reported on January 17 that Russia has deployed new ballistic missiles in the region. Satellite images about 430 kilometers from the Ukrainian border in Krasnodar show missiles and launchers of the Iskander complex capable of carrying nuclear weapons. According to the TV channel, the images show the infrastructure of the Iskander installations, bunkers and hangars..
“Since 2014, no one in Ukraine has doubted that Russia wants to deploy missiles closer to Europe. When the Kremlin militarized Crimea, the democratic community did not put up a united front in support of Ukraine, and it cannot now provide a unified position on a number of issues, not only about missiles, but also about the fact that Nord Stream 2 is another economic challenge in the sphere of international security “, – notes Yuri Lesnichy.
He calls the “passive” position of the West, especially of the countries participating in the Budapest Memorandum, on the issues of ensuring the security and sovereignty of Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, thanks to such a passive position of the West on the part of the participants in the Budapest Memorandum, it raises the stakes and leads the world to a nuclear arms race. The Ukrainian example of nuclear disarmament, in turn, shows the danger of such a scenario, ”emphasizes Yuriy Lesnichy.
Bluff, missiles and arms race
Dmitry Levus, director of the Center for Public Research “Ukrainian Meridian”, believes that over the past ten years Russia has been pursuing a policy of intimidating Western countries with an increase in military power. This applies both to the situation with the militarization of the Kerch Strait, and with the desire to place nuclear missiles closer to Europe, the expert notes..
“This is all a logical continuation of Russian foreign policy, which we have been observing, starting not from 2014, but even from 2008. For Russia, this behavior is absolutely logical, but its actions are no more than one continuous bluff. The Kremlin understands that Russia does not have the military and economic power to compete with the world. The Kremlin can wage war in limited theaters of operations, in Syria and the Caucasus, or wage a small regional war against Ukraine, ”Dmitry Levus told the Voice of America correspondent.
He believes that Russia could have deliberately also resorted to various methods of disseminating information in the press about the movement of its nuclear potential..
“From time to time, Russia demonstrates to the world that it has nuclear weapons and methods of delivering them. News appears in Western news agencies that warms up the situation and reminds of Russian “power”. It seems that the Kremlin is making an attempt to intimidate Western countries with its military force, ”emphasizes Dmitry Levus.
The Ukrainian strategy in response to Russia’s actions, he said, should be based on the use of high-precision weapons, improving the methods of electronic warfare.
“In the modern world, we are unlikely to regain the status of a nuclear state, but we can respond to Russian blackmail by increasing the combat readiness of the Ukrainian army and society. At the same time, Russia is not always able to calculate the consequences of its actions – they intimidate the West, which, given the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine, may go over to new economic sanctions, ”says Dmitry Levus.