by David Stockman, International Man:
Washington’s hypocritical and tendentious accusations against Russia’s reabsorption of Crimea imply that the dead hand of the Soviet presidium must be defended at all costs — as if the security of North Dakota depended upon it!
The allegedly “occupied” territory of Crimea, in fact, was actually purchased from the Ottomans by Catherine the Great in 1783, thereby satisfying the longstanding quest of the Russian czars for a warm-water port. Over the ages, Sevastopol then emerged as a great naval base at the strategic tip of the Crimean peninsula, where it became home to the mighty Black Sea Fleet of the czars and then the Soviet Union.
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For the next 171 years Crimea was an integral part of Russia (until 1954). That span equals the 170 years that have elapsed since California was annexed by a similar thrust of “Manifest Destiny” on this continent, thereby providing, incidentally, the United States Navy with its own warm-water port in San Diego.
While no foreign forces subsequently invaded the California coasts, it was most definitely not Ukrainian rifles, artillery and blood that famously annihilated The Charge of the Light Brigade at the Crimean city of Balaclava in 1854; they were Russians defending the homeland from invading Turks, French and Brits.
At the end of the day, security of its historical port in Crimea is Russia’s Red Line, not Washington’s.
Unlike today’s feather-headed Washington pols, even the enfeebled Franklin Roosevelt at least knew that he was in Soviet Russia when he made port in the Crimean city of Yalta in February 1945.
Maneuvering to cement his control of the Kremlin in the intrigue-ridden struggle for succession after Stalin’s death a few years later, Nikita Khrushchev allegedly spent 15 minutes reviewing his “gift” of Crimea to his subalterns in Kiev.
As it happened, therefore, Crimea became part of the Ukraine only by writ of the former Soviet Union:
On April 26, 1954 The decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet transferring the Crimea Oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR. Taking into account the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR…. (emphasis ours)
In fact, the Kiev government’s current Washington-supported brouhaha about “returning” Crimea is a naked case of the hegemonic arrogance that has overtaken Imperial Washington since the 1991 Soviet demise.
After all, during the long decades of the Cold War, the West did nothing to liberate the “captive nation” of Ukraine — with or without the Crimean appendage bestowed upon it in 1954. Nor did it draw any red lines in the mid-1990s when a financially desperate Ukraine rented back Sevastopol and the strategic redoubts of the Crimea to an equally pauperized Russia.
In short, in the era before we got our Pacific port in 1848 and even during the 170-year interval since then, America’s national security has depended not one whit on the status of Russian-speaking Crimea and the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The fact that the local population of the former in March 2014 chose fealty to the Grand Thief in Moscow over the ruffians and rabble that have seized Kiev amounts to a giant, “So what?”
Still, it was this final aggressive drive of Washington and NATO into the internal affairs of Russia’s historical neighbor and vassal, Ukraine, that largely accounts for the demonization of Putin. Likewise, it is virtually the entire source of the false claim that Russia has aggressive, expansionist designs on the former Warsaw Pact states in the Baltics, Poland and beyond.
The latter is a nonsensical fabrication. In fact, it was the neocon meddlers from Washington who crushed Ukraine’s last semblance of civil governance when they enabled ultra-nationalists and crypto-Nazis to gain government positions after the February 2014 coup.
So it may be fairly asked: What lame brains did not understand yet that Washington’s triggering of “regime change” in Kiev would reopen this entire bloody history of sectarian and political strife?
Moreover, once they had opened Pandora’s Box, why was it so hard to see that an outright partition of Ukraine with autonomy for the Donbas and Crimea, or even accession to the Russian state from which these communities had originated, would have been a perfectly reasonable resolution?