A Ukrainian naval cutter at pier in Berdyansk, Ukraine (Photo: president.gov.ua)
Vladimir Putin‘s press secretary Dmitry Peskov says that Kyiv’s construction of new bases on the Black Sea, bases being built with American and British help, threatens to “destabilize” the situation, although the Kremlin spokesman suggested that the exact nature of that threat requires further study (Britain is going to assist in constructing one Ukrainian naval base on the Black Sea and another on the Sea of Azov, – Ed.).
This week, in his message to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine would soon have two new bases on the Black Sea, a development that he suggested would help Ukraine defend itself against threats from Russia and that was one of the reasons the country’s defense budget would not be cut.
The two bases, which are being built with British assistance, are not the only ones of this kind. According to Russian commentators, two more proto-bases are being constructed with American assistance.
Russian commentators have suggested that Kyiv cannot afford to build these bases on its own, an indication that Moscow is likely more disturbed by the fact that the Americans and British are involved in this process than that Ukraine will have more naval facilities in the future.
Since 1991, Moscow has been concerned about and opposed to the construction of any base anywhere in the former Soviet space if it involves Western assistance, convinced that the West is building such bases nominally for the countries where they are located but will use them in the event of a military conflict themselves.
Perhaps significantly, the Russian government has not been equally concerned about China’s construction of military bases for Tajikistan which could be used against Russian interests in the same way.
Leaving alone Putin’s PR as the “gatherer of the Russian lands” and multiple anti-Ukrainian propaganda narratives, Russia’s 2014 occupation of Crimea aimed at retaining Russia’s Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea and boosting the Russian domination in the Black Sea region. For now, Russia has stuffed the peninsula that primarily was a sea resort for many Ukrainians with military personnel and equipment and keeps changing its ethnic composition by resettling more and more Russians to this Ukrainian region. Moreover, Russia blocked the Kerch Strait – the only waterway to the Sea Of Azov shared by Ukraine and Russia – by constructing the Kerch bridge and now it illegally controls the sea traffic inspecting the vessels that are calling the Ukrainian Azov Sea ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk.
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- Russian disinformation shadows Ukrainian-British-US Joint Endeavor 2020 exercise
- Ukraine’s new National Security Strategy: Russia as the aggressor, full NATO membership, and a few drawbacks
- Kyiv considers purchase of 16 US patrol boats Mark VI which might strengthen Ukraine’s maritime security
- Russia returns Ukrainian naval ships it highjacked a year ago (2019)
- Military base instead of a resort: Crimea four years of the occupation
- Moscow blocking maritime shipping to Ukrainian ports on Sea of Azov
- Hybrid War in Ukraine and Belarus: same thing and potentially same disastrous outcome
- Ukrainian warships break Russian de-facto blockade in Azov (2018)
- Russian attack on Ukrainian ships near Kerch Strait (2018)
- Russia attacks Ukrainian ships near Kerch strait – video, audio
- Ukrainian volunteers start restoring Ukraine’s broken naval fleet (2015)
- Russia ‘de-Ukrainizing’ population of Crimea, occupation census shows (2015)