Independence and the Black Sea Fleet

Independence and the Black Sea Fleet

The new authorities in Kyiv may denounce the Kharkiv agreements. Due to the events in Ukraine, Russia may lose the naval base in Sevastopol. Recall, the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU include important points about the military security cooperation, and, in fact, called "Square" the door to NATO membership.

News of Ukraine 1905 22 февраля, 2014

In this situation, the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol would be perceived by Western partners as a thorn in the eye.

As soon as a new government comes to power in Kiev, acting under the dictation of the EU and the United States, an association agreement will be signed. And at the same time there will be a great opportunity to remove the "thorn" by surgery. For example, denounce the Kharkiv agreements, signed in 2010 by  Viktor Yanukovych  and then Russian President  Dmitry Medvedev .

As a reminder, this document extends the stay of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine by 25 years (from 2017 to 2042) in exchange for a decrease in Russian gas prices (by about $ 100 per thousand cubic meters). The Kharkiv agreements immediately became the object of criticism of the supporters of European integration - they regarded the agreement as an attempt at Russia's interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Only representatives of the Party of Regions and the Communist Party of Ukraine voted for the document in the Verkhovna Rada.

Now, in the event of coming to power, supporters of European integration may well take revenge - to send the Russian fleet out of Sevastopol. Yes, this step will inevitably lead to an upward revision of gas prices. But it will also allow Kiev to score political points in the eyes of a good half of the Ukrainian society, plus, possibly, to get preferences in the West.

How it was ...


How will the fate of the Russian Black Sea Fleet develop, and is there a danger that NATO warships will take its place in Sevastopol?

“The connection of the Black Sea with the Mediterranean gives Crimea a special geopolitical significance,” says  retired rear admiral, military historian Yuri Kirillov . - As you remember, the more than 300-year-old dream of Russia, the Russian national idea, was the mastery of the Black Sea straits - for the country to become a Mediterranean power. We were de facto it while we owned the Black Sea basin. And you can own it only based in Sevastopol: the Crimean Peninsula is, in fact, a stationary aircraft carrier.

"SP": - But the Turks hold the Black Sea Straits, and Turkey is a NATO member?

- We have special rights to the Black Sea Straits, like the Black Sea power - they are fixed in the Montreux Convention of 1936. When passing the straits we have the most favored nation regime - which, by the way, the United States does not have.

The Russian emperor dreamed of not having any special rights, but full rights to the Black Sea straits - to walk along them as, say, along the Moika or Fontanka. And, by the way, in the First World War, Russia had the only strategic goal - to seize these straits. For the rest, consider that we worked for my uncle.

"SP": - Can the new Ukrainian authorities denounce the Kharkiv agreements, try to remove our fleet from Sevastopol?

- I don't even want to speak on this topic out of a simple feeling of superstition. But the situation is very difficult and difficult. And it doesn’t work in our favor.

I can only note that Yanukovych is following an absolutely disastrous path. And we, unfortunately, depend on the situation with the Black Sea Fleet on the development of the situation in Ukraine. It is also complicated by the fact that there are now two American warships in the Black Sea, one of them is packed to the brim with marines.

"SP": - Do you think the Americans can use the ships?

- Of course not - it means unleashing a war. But there is such an expression - an indirect impact on politics. Literally translated from English - "there is a fleet." When “the fleet is,” it does nothing, but by its mere presence puts pressure on politics, and allows the side that has the fleet to make productive decisions for itself and receive dividends.

"SP": - If - purely hypothetically - assume that the Americans will be able to deploy a base in Sevastopol, will they deploy it?

- With pleasure, this is their main policy - bases, bases, bases, wherever they are. And Sevastopol was simply created by God as a place for a naval base.

"SP": - In this case, the Americans will also receive most favored nation treatment when passing the Black Sea straits?

- Yes. If they get a base in Sevastopol, the 1936 treaty will be revised.

"SP": - There is an opinion that now the resources of all countries are limited, including the States. And the zones of the Indian and Pacific oceans are becoming strategic in terms of geopolitics. Maybe, in this situation, the Americans will not spend their forces on the base in Sevastopol?

- The Americans have been actively using bloc opportunities for a long time, for 20 years now - they are uniting with their NATO allies to solve their own problems. For example, Turkey today has a very large military fleet, it is probably among the six first fleets in the world - in terms of numerical strength. Turkey is very serious and Turkey is a NATO member. Therefore, under the auspices of the Americans, Turkish ships can enter Sevastopol. There will be some American minesweeper and a dozen Turkish ships in Crimea. In this case, it will be considered that there is an American squadron - NATO, in any case.

NATO's interethnic naval forces are most often commanded by one of the American admirals. The warships of NATO member countries have common frequencies, they have adapted weapons and identification systems. What difference does it make which NATO member will stand in Sevastopol? Anyway, it will work for American politics.

Moreover, Turkey will remain on the sidelines in this case: they say, the idea with Sevastopol is not ours, our NATO colleagues asked us - so we went in.

"SP": - And then you can't smoke them from there?

- Oh, I remember a little cases of smoking. In 1943, the United States both entered the Mediterranean and forgot to leave - to this day. There are such delicious places, from which they themselves do not leave.

SP: - Accordingly, is the American naval base a powerful factor of pressure on the policy of the country in which it is located?

- Sure. Such a country is already in the wake of the United States. Automatically. The Americans pay quite generously for their bases, and give various preferences to the alleged owners. De facto, the United States is becoming the masters of the country.

In Ukraine, the Americans can enter, for example, according to this scenario. If the current situation in the "Square" lasts another two weeks, humanitarian aid will be required to all provinces in which there are unrest. So the Americans will drive into Sevastopol a universal amphibious assault ship with a total displacement of 55 thousand tons - with humanitarian aid and two thousand marines. And they'll be serving out corn popcorn. It seems, on the one hand, a humanitarian action, and on the other, a powerful military presence. On such a ship, by the way, there are about 50 aircraft - in addition to the marines and popcorn.

In this case, direct impact is simply not needed - this is too rough work. Americans will achieve their goals by other methods - squeezing, pushing, etc.

"SP": - Residents of Sevastopol are unlikely to welcome the presence of American ships. The people there are military, determined - what if they rebel? What will the Americans do in this case?

- Do not forget that the Crimean peninsula is itself a problem region. There will be destructive forces there that will intervene on the side of the Americans. For example, the same Tatars. In addition, in this case, children from the neighboring western regions will come to Crimea - they are nearby, the peninsula is located at the junction of the eastern and western regions. Moreover, now, I think, the radical forces in Ukraine will begin to coordinate themselves. Therefore, rest assured: whoever needs it will come to Crimea in advance to support the Americans.

After all, what is the strength of the radical, pro-Western, nationalist Ukrainian side? They are already with cudgels and frenzy, and our, eastern, side is indignant, but not yet ready to shed blood.

In a word, the prospects for the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea for Russia do not look too optimistic. We can only hope for the best - what else is there to do?! ..

“If the nationalists take control over all of Ukraine, they will indeed immediately denounce the Kharkov agreements,” said  Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute for Military and Political Analysis . - This means that we will be required to remove the Black Sea Fleet immediately, without even waiting for 2017. Because, generally speaking, such a requirement is the sovereign right of Ukraine.

SP: - Do you need some kind of argumentation to denounce the agreement?

- Not. Denunciation of any agreement is the sovereign right of each specific country. It is clear that, in response, we will raise gas prices for Ukraine - say, up to $ 500 per thousand cubic meters, or maybe more. This, in turn, is the sovereign right of Russia. But, of course, there can be no explanation for this.

"SP": - And we can denounce in response the decrees of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1954 on the transfer of Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR?

“I don’t think it’s possible now.” Such things could have been discussed at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. And now I'm afraid it's too late.

"SP": - If our fleet is "asked" from the Crimea, we have where to overtake it?

- There are certain difficulties with this. Although the construction of the Black Sea Fleet base in Novorossiysk has been accelerated in every possible way in recent years, it is not yet ready to receive the entire fleet from Sevastopol.

"SP": - How important is Sevastopol to us? After all, strategically - due to the lack of direct access to the ocean - its value is not too great?

- The Russian leadership attaches great importance to the presence of the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, primarily political. Although the forced construction of a base in Novorossiysk suggests that Moscow was seriously considering the option of a complete withdrawal from Crimea - even, as they say, with Yanukovych alive, before the events on Maidan began.

"SP": - If we leave, will a NATO base appear in Sevastopol?

- All talk about the appearance of a NATO base in Sevastopol is groundless. Look at the Baltic states - they have been in NATO for ten years, and where are the bases there ?! There is none. And who prevented the deployment of a NATO base in Ukraine under Yushchenko? He would have been happy, but the base has not appeared in his reign.

I think if we leave, that set of floating scrap metal, which is called the naval forces of Ukraine, will be based in Sevastopol - and that's all.

"SP": - How likely is the scenario of our sailors leaving Sevastopol?

- It is difficult for me to imagine the power of nationalists over the whole of Ukraine. If they come to power in Kiev - which I fully admit - this will mean an almost guaranteed split of the country. I personally believe that a split would be an absolute blessing for all parts of Ukraine, they would stop tormenting each other. But what will happen in reality is extremely difficult to say. Each of the opposing sides is too weak, but at the same time, oddly enough, it is absolutely irreconcilable. Anything can come of it ...

“I don’t think that something extraordinary will happen to the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” says Igor Kasatonov, admiral, former commander of the Black Sea Fleet (1991-1992), deputy of the State Duma of the sixth convocation from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation . - The agreements that exist on his stay in Crimea meet all the norms of international law. Whatever government comes to power in Ukraine, international law - which takes precedence over national law - must be respected.

In addition, we have many economic levers of influence on Ukraine. They can influence the fate of the Russian fleet even in the event of the arrival of a pro-Western government. Roughly speaking, it will be extremely unprofitable for Ukraine to expel the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Finally, the third. If the anti-naval war is raised, it can exacerbate the situation inside Ukraine itself. This will not benefit any Ukrainian government.

In my opinion, the problem of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is at the bottom of the list of urgent problems for the Ukrainian authorities. After overcoming the political crisis, the task of restoring everything that has been destroyed will come to the fore, then close work with the population. It will not reach the Black Sea Fleet soon. Therefore, I do not think that we will see anti-naval demarches ...
Photo: Vasily Batanov / RIA Novosti

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