The growing activity of the US and NATO in the Black Sea
NATO is preparing a package of measures to counter Russia in the Black Sea region. This package includes the deployment of NATO warships to the Black Sea to guarantee ‘passage’ of Ukrainian ships via the Kerch Strait, U.S. ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison stressed during a press briefing on April 2.
Hutchison said that the prepared package “beefs up the surveillance, both air surveillance as well as more of the NATO country ships going into the Black Sea to assure that there is safe passage from Ukrainian vessels through the Kerch Straits, the Sea of Azov”.
Earlier the US State Department announced that the Black Sea package is a response to the challenges the US and NATO face in the region, “not merely because of the Kerch Strait incident,” but because “Russia is threatening the alliance all along the eastern flank, not just in the north.
The public announcement of a possible NATO operation in the Kerch Strait is itself a move undermining the shaky stability created after the incident of November 25, 2018, when Russian coastal guards detained 3 ships of the Ukrainian Navy, which were attempting to enter the Kerch Strait in a way which violated the established norms and rules. Then, Moscow’s actions gave rise to large-scale hysteria in mainstream and Ukrainian media outlets. However, the situation developed no further. Ukraine’s “partners” limited their response to formal declarations. It was clear that the Kiev government was the side that had provoked the conflict. Before and after the Kerch Strait incident Ukrainian ships were passing the strait after going through the formal procedures established in this area.
If NATO naval forces together with or in some form assisting Ukrainian forces were to make an attempt to break through the Kerch Strait by force violating the established rules of passage, this would be seen by Moscow as an aggressive military action, which would provoke an equivalent response. In other words, a military clash could be expected. In such an event, the situation might escalate further. The media and political importance of such developments could be compared with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which became the formal pretext for the start of the First World War or the annexation of the Sudetenland by Nazi Germany before the start of the Second World War.
At the beginning of 2019, it seemed that despite the unfriendly rhetoric between the United States and Russia, there were actually no valid reasons for organizing the next armed incident, at a minimum, or in the worst case, for starting a war. However, there are a number of factors which may nudge Washington towards pushing for an escalation in the Black Sea region.
1. On March 25, President Donald Trump officially signed a declaration recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel. This step met with a negative reaction from almost all important regional and international players. The Trump administration has now destroyed one of the last fragments of the post-World War 2 international security system. This action as well as previous blatant violations of international law will have negative consequences for the entire system of international security and international law. Following this, global players can be less and less concerned about even the formal justification of their actions from the point of view of international law and can increasingly rely on military power, sanctions and informational pressure, coups and other “hybrid” methods to achieve their goals. As we see, Washington is the forerunner in the employment of such approaches. Now, the White House is interested in diverting international attention from the current situation and from the expected consequences of Golan-style decisions.
2. The failure of the Venezuelan blitzkrieg forced Washington to reconsider the approaches employed to force regime change. The inability of the US to fully delegitimize and overthrow the Maduro government is based on several factors:
- the insufficient support from the local population for the US puppet;
- the decision of the military to support the legitimate government;
- the resolution of Maduro himself and his inner circle, who unlike the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, were not prepared to sit by indifferently while power was seized by the henchmen of external forces.
- The strong stand of China and Russia in support of Venezuela and the surprising inability of the Trump administration to set up a strong anti-Venezuelan coalition even at the regional level. So far, most of the US regime change partners have limited their participation to formal declarations or, like Columbia, to a lack of opposition to the actions of US agents.
So, the US operation has entered a new phase. The economic and diplomatic pressure on the Maduro government has increased, and the country has experienced a series of large-scale “accidents” targeting critical objects of the energy infrastructure. The Maduro government openly blamed hostile actions by the US for the recent series of blackouts. There are signals that the US is preparing for a military operation in the region, on its own or within the framework of a formally created coalition to put an end to the resistance of Caracas. To ensure the success of this operation, Washington has to carry out actions on the periphery to distract attention from the Venezuelan issue.
3. The situation in Ukraine ahead of the second round of the presidential election is not stable. Experts and analysts have serious doubts that Poroshenko actually gained fairly the 16%, which allowed him to proceed to the second round. It is suggested that from 3 to 8% may have been obtained fraudulently. Even if the incumbent president really did get 16% of the vote, the entire structure of voting demonstrated that the Ukrainians are frustrated by the destructive policy of the ruling regime and the status as a Western colony obtained by Ukraine in 2014. The arbitrary development of this situation could create conditions in which the US and the associated European bureaucracy would lose their influence in Ukraine, and as a result, the money spent on bringing Kiev to vassalage. In the event of the escalation of the political struggle, a possible outcoume could even be that Ukraine would split further into two political antagonists along the west-east line. If the Washington establishment wants to keep the situation under control, it must create the conditions in which Poroshenko could achieve victory. Or should Vladimir Zelensky win, he must be limited in his ability to maneuver and de-escalate relations and even start a dialogue with Russia. He must also be prevented from starting a more or less independent dialogue, ie not that of a vassal, with the European Union.
A military provocation in the Kerch Strait with the support of NATO warships would be suitable for achieving all the goals just described. Moreover, the logic of NATO’s actions includes damage to the infrastructure of the Crimean Bridge or at least its significant damage during the incident. This would have a resounding informational effect and would create significant problems for the economy of Crimea.
Another interesting point is the declaration that Russia “is threatening the alliance all along the eastern flank, not just in the north”. The entire format of such rhetoric raises eyebrows. If, in the case of the northern front, such statements can be justified with the complex configuration around Kaliningrad and the specific historical experience of the Baltic countries and Poland with Russia, the statement about the Russian threat in the south is a rude propaganda cliché.
Hutchison stressed that Russia is threatening “Romania, Bulgaria, and Ukraine, as well as Georgia”. But there are some issues. Georgia is separated from Russia by mountains, is not a NATO country and does not experience territorial claims from Russia. Moreover, Russia still categorically refuses to consider the inclusion of South Ossetia and Abkhazia into its own territory. Almost 30 years have passed since the actual independence of these republics, and almost 11 years since the last aggressive war unleashed by Georgia with the support of NATO. Ukraine is also not a NATO country, and recent years have shown that Moscow has no desire to conduct full-scale military operations on its territory. Bulgaria and Romania do not have a land border with Russia and both states have working bilateral relations with Moscow. Even more strikingly, US statements do not even mention the second most significant military state of NATO, the country whose military potential exceeds the combined military potential of Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Greece – Turkey, which by the way, is located on the southern flank of the military bloc. This statement by a representative of the Washington establishment is another vulgar example of Psaki-style rhetoric that has little to do with democratic values, freedom, or a desire for justice. They themselves do not believe in it. They know only that a few others do believe in it. Thus they simply mock the masses, who they consider to be sheep. Such statements demonstrate that Washington is seriously considering conducting aggressive actions in the near future in several directions at once.
The authors do not mention another reason for the US to start an incident in the region: the recent EU and China trade discussions and agreements. The US does not like the EU opening to China and treats it like it like anything it cannot control: an existential threat.
Sea of Azov
The United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), Office of Legal Affairs considers the Sea of Azov a “territorial sea” not an international body of of water.
Refer to paragraph 2 on the webpage and open the 471 page PDF document titled, “National Legislation on the Exclusive Economic Zone”.
Page 5 reads as follows:
“The exclusive economic zone — a brief analysis
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea gives coastal States the right to establish an exclusive economic zone which may extend to 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the territorial sea is measured.”
Refer to: https://www.un.org/Depts/los/LEGISLATIONANDTREATIES/toc.htm
Search for “Ukraine” and open the PDF file titled, “PDFFILES/UKR_1992_CoordinatesAzovSea.PDF”.
The title of the top of the page reads,
“List of geographical coordinates of points defining the baselines for measuring the breadth of the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf in the Sea of Azov”
So there it is in black and white; the Sea of Azov is defined as a “territorial sea” or “internal waters” and an exclusive economic zone for which the two coastal States of the Ukraine and the Russian Federation established an agreement in 2003 (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_Between_the_Russian_Federation_and_Ukraine_on_Cooperation_in_the_Use_of_the_Sea_of_Azov_and_the_Kerch_Strait ).
Footnote 1 identifies the actual agreement.
The Kerch Strait Bridge
The bridge connects the Crimean Federal District of the Russian Federation to the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai. The bridge is part of the critical infrastructure that supports interstate commerce within this locale of Russia’s western territory. Any damage to the bridge whether intentional or not, could cause the death of Russian citizens as well as the interruption of vehicle and future rail transportation that is important to the Crimean economy. The portion of the Kerch Strait beneath the bridge falls within the jurisdiction of Russia as a coastal State. The space below the bridge down to the surface of the water in the Kerch Strait is Russian sovereignty as governed by international riparian rights property law.
Think of it this way; wouldn’t the United States government establish maritime regulations to protect the Golden State Bridge from attacks by foreign military warships or merchant vessels sailing from the Pacific Ocean to make a port of call in San Francisco? Of course it would. The Golden State bridge connects to both sides of U.S. sovereignty, just like the Kerch Strait bridge connects to both sides of Russian sovereignty. The U.S. can implement regulations to ensure the safety of its bridge and Russia can do the same with the Kerch Strait bridge.
Turkey is the gatekeeper for ingress to the Black Sea. Turkey can permit access by NATO warships in accordance with The Montreux Convention of 1936. However once NATO sails around Crimea and approaches the Kerch Strait bridge, these military vessels must comply with Russian authority that governs its sovereignty. Approaching the bridge by vessel traffic from the Black Sea is no different than vehicle traffic from one nation approaching the border of another country. The bridge is a checkpoint for which the authority to cross under it is at the discretion of the country that owns it, that being Russia. The regulations for crossing under the bridge are not onerous and must be adhered to for the safety of the bridge itself and the vehicle and future railway traffic above it. It’s a prudent, logical course of action, that’s all.
Thank you Poke The Truth for the most helpful research and Good use of open source materials.
The question now seems to be when? And also if the coinciding attacks on Venezuela and Crimea will be timed for the strategic needs of Southcom or those of NATO/Centcom. (Turkey must deal with both of the latter entities in different ways)
Forget international law in the Black Sea or anywhere else for that matter unless Turkey acts in a bold and unusual way to insist on its implementation. The NATO warships are not Turkish ships even if Turkey is a NATO member and as such are limited to 21 days in the Black Sea.
It seems as if Turkey is the wild card in this situation.
As for Venezuela, Maduro is hunkered down for a long, nasty people’s war. Even the Venezuelan drug gangs are turning over rival gangs attempting to infiltrate their country to the authorities. So far.
Any attempt by israel’s jailhouse sukas (oh, pardon, nato) to force their way through Russian waters will initiate open war against Russia, and likely ww3. Given the zionazi-gay effort to drive Turkey out of nato, through israel’s quisling trump regime, the very idea of nato operating in the Black Sea may soon be a hankering of their “glorious past”.
Were you as devastated as I, vot, that Sheldon Adelson’s little space-ship crashed into the Moon? Where was Yahweh or Bibi (his representative on Earth)when they were needed? And how poignant was that little sign-‘Small country, Big Dreams’? No rubbish about ‘We came in the name of all humanity’ or similar goyish gibberish.
Absolutely devastated. ;-D
In fact I was so devastated, when I had a rare free moment last night, I posted a lament in the cafe about this terrible event:
Something happening Serbia too???????
Extract ….”Jeremic, officially and openly backed by the U.S consular offices in Belgrade, as well as U.S financed alternative media including a campaign on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, has called for a ‘peaceful’ protest on April 13th unless Serbian President Vucic announces immediate new elections. There is no constitutional requisite for such early elections. These ‘peaceful’ protests would involve the in-fact violent and forceful blocking of roads and access to construction projects presently under way. The street blockage protest would include a coercive detainment of innocent Serbian bystanders and civilians, who would be unable to travel unhindered to work, personal destinations, or to seek emergency medical treatment in such case.
The One in Five Million protest movement appears to have several hundred main activists, who are believed to be either party members of the extremist Dveri party, or employees of other U.S backed NGO’s. These are commonly funded by George Soros or are connected to NGO’s who qualify for funding through various and difficult to police channels of the UN, USAID, and the U.S’ NED (National Endowment for Democracy).
Vulin said that since 2012 the army has been intensively armed with equipment and that Serbia today, among other things, has 14 MiG 29’s. NATO has repeatedly called on the Serbian government and state to reduce arms spending and to reduce the size of its military. …..”