The Crimean Peninsula, or Krim as the Russians call it, is sacred to the Russian people. In a strategic sense, it is their historical warm water port and access to the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and the oceans beyond. Russia had already secured Crimea with prior treaties in Ukraine which allowed them to station an overwhelming number of soldiers and sailors to service their Black Sea Fleet.
So to me, it was not surprising that Russia decided to take the territory by force when Ukraine showed signs of becoming a nation beholden to the West when Ukrainian President Yanukovych was ousted from power in the Maidan revolution over a year ago now.
Russia is now celebrating the one year anniversary of their conquest of Krim and produced a documentary which showed a lengthy interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The video gives fascinating insight (and most importantly Kremlin propaganda for the West to ponder) into Putin’s thoughts and decisions regarding the military operation that annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.
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The Washington Post reports on the documentary:
“You know what our advantage was? The fact that I was doing this personally,” (Putin) said. “Not because I did everything correctly, but because when it is done by the top person in government, it’s much easier for those who fulfill orders to work.” Ukrainian forces in Crimea were ill-organized after the collapse of the government in Kiev, he said.
“We were ready” to raise Russia’s nuclear forces to a high state of readiness, Putin said. “But I proceeded from the belief that it would not go so far.”
Obviously, this piece of news about their readiness to use nuclear weapons is calculated to scare the West into not confronting Russia on any further adventures it decides to take in Eastern Europe. Putin also says in the video that he was surprised the invasion went so easily. I guess he thought the West would put up more of a fight.
Unfortunately, our current leadership has no stomach to stand up to aggression in any form. The next American president needs to make it very clear that the Eastern European nations which form the barrier of NATO to Russia also have the nuclear protection of the United States. It would be nice to hear a president say that, but I’m going to hold my breath for two years.
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