By Paul Evancoe
Crimea is a jutting peninsula that extends from southern Ukraine?s mainland into the Black Sea. A narrow spit reaches Russia on its east side, providing Russia a causeway to its major warm water seaport on the Black Sea. Crimea has significant strategic importance to Russia?s security both militarily and economically. Its commercial value easily compares to its military counterpart as Crimea provides an intermodal hub for Russian commerce in that region. Russia?s Black Sea Fleet is home ported there along with 15,000 Russian troops in a massive Russian naval and air force installation.
During WW-II Crimea was occupied by Germany, and Russia paid dearly repatriating it from the Nazis. Following the war, the Soviets maintained their stronghold and never left. In an international show of good faith, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev returned Crimea to Ukraine?s pro-Soviet puppet government in 1954, but for strategic reasons the Soviets maintained a firm military grasp of it.
When Eisenhower invited Khrushchev to visit the U.S. in 1954, the House Committee on Un-American Activities conducted a study and published a seven volume report on Khrushchev?s activities as ?Stalin’s most aggressive killer.? They found that Khrushchev had personally conceived and arranged the mass starvation and liquidation of 6 to 8 million Ukrainians in the early 1930?s. During a second two-year reign of terror in 1937 – ’38, he arranged the deaths of another 400,000, and during his post WWII purge, sent hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to forced labor camps where many died. It is no wonder that most of the populace now in Crimea is Russian speaking Ukrainians whom Putin claims as his to “protect.”
Eisenhower, nonetheless arranged for a public relations tour to the U.S. for Khrushchev, and invited him to his Gettysburg farm where the world press took photos of Khrushchev bouncing Eisenhower?s grandchildren on his knee, thus completing Khrushchev’s public relations coup. In bewilderment of our allies, the US State Department later told Yugoslavia?s Tito, Prime Minister (1943?63), President (later President for Life) (1953?80) of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, that the US did not favorably view any anti-Russian/anti-Soviet governments on the periphery of the Soviet Union.
Today, Ukrainian political unrest has disturbed the fragile balance of peace that tediously existed between Russia and Ukraine since the end of the Cold War and has threatened Russian interests in Crimea. Moscow has responded by reinforcing its interests in Crimea with as many as 8,000 air-mobile troops and hundreds of attack aircraft. They have reportedly seized and reinforced key locations such as airports, bridges, highways, throughout Crimea as a precursor to full invasion. Washington has responded to Moscow with largely meaningless rhetorical criticism and little substantive action. The European Union (EU) has barely awoken, or so it seems. However, behind the charade there is a story that needs to be understood.
The European Union?s financial wellbeing is based upon the health of the Euro. Largely due to Europe?s numerous socialist entitlement programs, there are several members of the EU like Greece, Italy, Spain, etc., who face financial default. The Euro has been shored up time and again by Germany. Because of Germany?s industrial might it is the wealthiest and financially healthiest nation-member of the EU. Thus, Germany has been the financial vanguard of the Euro and therefore the EU. But Germany has an Achilles Heel and it is this singular vulnerability that prevents the EU from taking any meaningful action to counter Russia?s grasp of Crimea.
About 90% of the gas and oil that fuels Germany?s thriving industrial complex comes from Russia. Likewise, about 75% of Germany?s unskilled workforce does as well. All Russia needs to do to make it too risky for Germany to continue its financial support of the EU/Euro is to turn down the fuel and manpower spigot a few turns, which will slow Germany?s economy. And Russia, as well as the entire EU knows, there?s nothing Germany, the EU, or Washington can do about it. Russia may not hold all the cards, but it is playing an extremely strong hand.
Not all NATO members are EU members but NATO, as a whole, is faced with a situation that rivals Germany?s. If the EU falters and the Euro crashes, NATO will simply not be able to afford to fight. After all, war is an expensive endeavor. The US certainly can?t afford to shore up NATO or go it alone and with a US public that is sick of what appears to be never ending war, it is unlikely any US president would ever enjoy support for additional war – especially with Russia over a piece of real estate like Crimea, that has little to no meaning to US strategic security or economic interests.
That brings us to ask – just what should the US do? The short answer is nothing. We should recognize that what Russia is doing is little different than the US invasion of Panama or Granada. Our justification for invading those two sovereign nations was to protect US citizens and interests. Russia?s Putin is using the same justification.
The longer answer is this. In view of Crimea?s desire to rejoin mother Russia, we should make it clear to Russia that while we understand their historically strategic interest in Crimea, a Russian invasion of the whole of Ukraine is the trigger point. That is where the line is drawn because that would jeopardize Poland (now a NATO member) and provide unquestionable legal justification for NATO military action. Of course, president Obama has drawn lines before only to back down each and every time. Secondly, NATO has no stomach for war with Russia no matter how limited it might be. That means Ukraine might become a sacrificial lamb if for nothing more than to keep the peace in Europe. Only NATO knows if that is an acceptable price to pay and they must already have the answer.
Some have compared Putin to a master chess player who is playing marbles with Obama. While the validity of that statement can be argued in university classrooms and faculty lounges, the truth of the matter is that Obama is out of his league. Perhaps the real solution, at least for the US, is to vote in a new administration that understands foreign policy and has the ability to lead. Sadly, that probably won?t happen until 2016 (and may not then) and for the Ukraine, that will most definitely be too late.
The above is detailed in the book, None Dare Call it Treason, by John A. Stormer, published as a best-seller in 1964 and updated as None Dare Call it Treason — Twenty Five Years Later in 1992, showing nothing has changed in the aggressive ambitions of the Russian/Soviets or the naivet? of US leaders in dealing with them. These histories are essential reading for all patriots desiring insight into how the Russian/Soviet dialectic works with two steps forward, one step back for international communism. Another highly recommended book on the topic is the recent, American Betrayal by Diana West.
Paul Evancoe is a novelist and freelance writer. His action novels ?Own the Night,? ?Violent Peace? and ?Poison Promise? deal with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and are available at AmazonBooks.com
Agree 2016 is too late, somehow not totally confident there after either. Scary to see how Russia & China unite all-the-while building up their military forces… and the US is cutting back. Thank you Paul for the bold but daring truth.
Excellent article. I’m surprised that Putin took this long to reclaim Crimea.
Paul E. says
Reply to Dave C.: The EU certainly gets it for the reasons I outlined in the article, but there isn’t diddley they can do about it without risking EU/Euro collapse should Russia retaliate by turning down the spigot. Sadly, Obama doesn’t get it. While Putin was sending thousands of troops and anti-aircraft missiles to Crimea yesterday, Obama attended a private Urethra Franklin soul concert at the White House. That’s the difference between playing chess and playing marbles. Go figure.
Debra F.0. says
Great article! Thank you for the detailed history. It clarifies the situation and makes it easy to understand. As to our current issue in U.S. politics, maybe the solution is to have a dual U.S. Presidency. We could elect a socially popular ‘People’s President’ who could spend all his time at events and also elect someone capable of running our country and protecting it’s future.
Kay Good says
Thank you Paul for writing this article. Everyone needs to read this.
Jeff Haas says
Great article Skipper! You’ve outlined the geopolitical landscape well and in terms the layman can understand. I’ve always appreciated your approach and insight’s into complicated matters. It was the greatest pleasure serving in your command at SBU20 and it has been a pleasure reading your literature. Fair winds and following seas Skip!
Paul E. says
Reply to Jeff Haas: Thanks, Jeff. It’s always good to hear from an old shipmate. Warmest regards, paul
Hey! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of
my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this.
I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure
he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!