Russian military equipment at the Kerch ferry. Photo: RFE/RL
Tensions continue growing in Crimea. As Krym.Realii reported, the Ukrainian intelligence noted a large concentration of large groups of the Russian army in North Crimea over the latest days. In the words of Nariman Djelyal, first deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Dzhankoi was fully encircled by Russian servicemen. Transport movement was partially blocked at the Angarskyi Pass, and a few checkpoints were closed.
The Russian side claims that a purported shooting took place at the border with Crimea, as well as a “breakthrough of Ukrainian saboteurs.” Officially, the occupiers call the events in Crimea “military drills.”
Vladimir Putin has issued an official declaration in which he stated that “the Russian side suffered losses, two servicemen are killed.”
“We cannot turn a blind eye to these events. I would like to turn to our American and European partners. I think it is clear now that today’s Kyiv government is not looking for ways to solve problems by negotiations, but is resorting to terror. This is a very worrying thing,” Putin declared.
President of the Institute of Eastern Partnership, rabbi Abraham Shmulevich shared his thoughts about the consequences of these drills.
“This is a classic method of starting a war: first, military drills begin and later they grow into full-fledged military operations. This happened many times during the 20th and even 21st centuries. And if we compare the situation with the beginning of World War II, we will see that excuses to allegedly ‘protect’ Germany from a Polish ‘attack’ and the Soviet Union from a Finnish ‘attack’ were also used. Both Stalin and Hitler asserted that they were ‘forced to respond to aggression.’ Even though I would prefer to compare today’s events not to the beginning of World War II but to the Phony War between France and Germany. In fact, a new world war is already ongoing and Putin has occupied several countries. But this war really is a phony one, because the West doesn’t answer it at all,” the rabbi considers.
The expert notes: the World War II was not as bloody in the beginning as, say, during the battle of Stalingrad. In the first months, it was even less intensive than Putin conducted his nowadays invasion into Ukraine.
“These drills can grow into a real offensive of Russian troops any day. Apart from that, the events in Crimea are best viewed in the general global context. For instance, Putin announced the indefinite stay of a Russian military group and the establishment of a permanent airbase there already after the withdrawal of his troops from Syria. Also, a clear alliance of Iran, Turkey, and Russia has formed. Most importantly, NATO does not present a threat to Putin and won’t be able to constrain him. For example, the strongest army of the Alliance is in Turkey. Even before the war with Ukraine, Russian military analysts noted that the power of the Turkish fleet in the Black Sea exceeds the Russian one fivefold. Now, however, in the case of, say, Putin’s aggression against the Baltic states, Turkey not only will not interfere in the conflict, but will do everything to prevent the intervention of NATO,” the Israeli expert warns.
Avraam Shmulevich maintains that now Putin’s hands are free and it’s likely that nobody will oppose his possible aggression.
“Russia has prohibited the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and expelled its main leaders. Kidnappings, torture, and murders are taking place in Crimea now, and Turkey had offered no real help even before its rapprochement with Putin. All the more it will not offer it now. Putin can strike without fear of a response,” the expert laments.
Shmutlevich is confident: the drills at Crimea’s border is in any case practice for a scenario of a new intervention, regardless whether it begins now or later.
“Putin had two goals in Ukraine: the minimum program and the maximum program. The minimum program, namely, neutralizing the possibility of Ukraine’s revolution repeating in Russia, is already accomplished. Initially, Putin was afraid that the Russians would see how a nation close to them could take their own fate into their hands and build a democratic country free from corruption. But this didn’t happen, and he can already stop fearing the influence of the Ukrainian revolution on Russia. Regarding the second goal, Putin has voiced it quite honestly when he said that Ukraine does not exist as a country, and should be a part of Russia,” the rabbi continues.
Avraam Shulevich fears that the Kremlin can implement a quick total offensive on Kyiv from the Crimea and Donbas.
“If he will be able to cut Ukraine off from the sea and finish the operation in two weeks, there is a chance that the West will not be fast enough to react and will not interfere. Moreover, Putin, like last time, could use the Olympiad. If to this scenario the organization of provocations inside Ukraine itself will be added, it becomes truly threatening. The story with the religious march has shown mass unrest can be organized and agents sent in quite easily,” he warns.
Shmulevich emphasizes: Putin is likely to believe in a military solution with the use of aircraft and other features of the Russian armed forces.
“Partially, Ukrainian authorities presented him with the idea. When Ukrainian politicians explain to the people why they don’t officially declare a state of war, they warn that in this case Russia will be able to use aviation, before which the Ukrainian army will be powerless. Putin may well believe these statements and decide on implementing such an invasion,” the analyst fears.
The expert admits that, in fact, the Ukrainian army is currently definitely able to repel the aggressor, but Putin, being little informed about what is happening in reality, may well think otherwise. This may cost Ukraine a huge number of new tragedies and deaths.