It seems that economic and political differences between Russia and Ukraine may develop into a “military conflict”. Kyiv has already made first moves and tried to seize hydro-navigation objects of the Black Sea fleet in the Crimea and the Kherson region. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov stated on January 17, that the Black Sea fleet has the right to protect its objects in Ukraine.
Ivanov said, “The guards of these objects have the right to defend military property. I will not go into details.” This means that Russian seamen have the right to open fire in compliance with the Russian military regulations. This is a very courageous statement, which testifies that Moscow does not intend to part with its military objects in the Crimea before 2017.
Kyiv could not help commenting on this statement. Ukrainian defense Minister Anatoly Gritsenko stated, “If the military open fire in the Crimea this will be a verdict to Ukraine, Russia and Europe. I am sure that Kyiv or Moscow will sanction this. There are many problems between our countries but neither problem is worth while using weapons.”
In the meantime, Kyiv is sure that hydro-navigation objects of the Russian Black Sea fleet must be passed over to Ukraine. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk made this statement.
He stated on television, “This is a legal process carried out in compliance with Ukrainian legislation.” Tarasyuk thinks that Russia does not have sufficient reasons to state that these objects belong to the Black Sea fleet.
The foreign minister noted, “Representatives of the Black Sea fleet must know about responsibility for telling lies. The supplements to the agreement between Russia and Ukraine make no mention about these objects.”
The Ukrainian Transportation Ministry also stated that all navigation and hydrographic objects located on the shore, including the Yalta beacon, are Ukraine’s property. The ministry states that the Yalta port funded the beacon, paid land taxes and supplies power. He noted that at present specialists of the Ukrainian hydrographic service have access to the beacon.
In the meantime, Russia’s position is very strict. Captain Igor Dygalo, aide to the commander-in-chief of the Navy, stated, “The command of the Russian Navy will not change its position regarding the situation over navigation and hydrographic complexes of the Black Sea fleet and the Yalta beacon.”
He stated, “This position is based on the agreements concerning the Black Sea fleet, which were ratified by Ukraine. These agreements have become part of international law. This is why all disputes should be settled by the governments, not unilaterally on the basis of the Ukrainian legislation.”
So, Moscow and Kyiv do not intend to give up. Why does Kyiv seek to seize these objects? What will happen in the future? Many Russian and Ukrainian politicians are concerned about these questions. Eduard Baltin, former commander of the Black Sea fleet, commented the situation to WPS. He said that Ukraine needs the beacons in order to control the ground-based infrastructure and open beaches. No one cares about security in Ukraine because this country does not have a Navy. The admiral noted that the latest campaign was initiated by the CIA (its director visited Ukraine on December 16).
Baltin said, “Their objective is to ruin the Russian Black Sea fleet.” He said that Moscow must make every effort to defend its position in the dispute with Ukraine.
He noted, “Otherwise, US and NATO warships will be stationed in Sevastopol.”
Captain Vladimir Pasyakin, a Russian military expert from Sevastopol, said, “all objects located in the Crimea are Russian territory where all Russian laws and military regulations are in force.” This is why the expert thinks that it’s not ruled out that the sentry will use weapons against attackers. However, Pasyakin thinks that Moscow and Kyiv will settle this matter through negotiations.
The expert noted that relations between Russia and Ukraine aggravate. If Kyiv decides to join NATO, relations will become worse, and this aggravation will be initiated by Kyiv. According to Pasyakin, Kyiv will soon try to increase the rent for the base of the Black Sea fleet to $400 million a year. The Ukrainian defense minister made this statement. It’s not ruled out that Russia will decide to leave the Crimea earlier. Eduard Baltin said that Russia could build a similar infrastructure in the Salt Lake district in the Krasnodar region on this money.
In other words, problems of the Black Sea fleet aggravate. Moscow and Kyiv do not intend to make a compromise. No one knows for how long the conflict will last. However, it’s obvious that the presence of the Russian fleet in the Crimea will not be as placid as before, and the probability of its early withdrawal from Ukraine increases.