Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Succession of Crimea from Ukraine: A Major Setback for the Western Energy Geopolitics in the Black Sea.

The Ukrainian interim government in Kiev ought to be far more cautious instead of resorting to the sort of aggressive rhetoric that Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has indluged in. The killing of a member of the Ukrainian military in Crimea by pro-Russian volunteers could be a simple mistake and not a 'declaration of war'

The Kiev government needs to resist the temptation to play the nationalist card in the run up to elections in May 25 2014. By mobilising its Ukrainian forces and calling for a National Guard in advance of a legitimately elected government being put in place it could embolded the ultra-nationalists in Western Ukraine.

For all the talk from Western diplomats about the need to 'descalate' the potential for conflict, Arseniy Yatsenyuk's rhetoric about the "conflict is shifting from a political to a military stage." is counterproductive and could inflame tensions all the more if he does not placate Russophone fears in Eastern Ukraine.

Crimea has been lost to Ukraine and no amount of prating by Western politicians could reverse that verdict. By ramping up hostile rhetoric in order to compensate for its lack of legitimacy and get forthright neoconservative support from those such as US Republicans as McCain is very dangerous.

For all the accusations about Putin playing a 'zero-sum' game' the same is true of those smarting from the loss of Crimea to Ukraine, the main geopolitical aim of those in the west who had been trying economic trade ties and 'democracy promotion' in order to conclusively get Ukraine in the NATO fold.

The permanent loss of the Crimea conclusively sets back the plan going back to the 2008 Bucharest Summit to recreate the Black Sea as a predominantly NATO surrounded lake. By taking Crimea, the Sea of Azov becomes a Russian controlled geopolitical and energy hub.

Just as the Russian presence on the Baltic Sea is Russia's 'window to the west' to the north, the south and east of Ukraine bordering the Black Sea are feared by NATO expansionists to be potential regions that could decide to want reunion with Russia, including Odessa.

A reassertion of Russian interests around the Black Sea coast and greater ties with Russia ( Odessa was a creation of Catherine the Great in the 1790s ) would conclusive thwart the west's attempt to control gas and oil pipeline flows from the Caspian Region and further afield.

To retain Crimea would also give Russia and Gazprom a greater stake in the exploration of the yet as untapped oil and gas potential of the Black Sea which otherwise, being surrounded and controlled by Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine and potentially exclude Russia interests.

Ukraine without the Black Sea cost would be a large spur of land, majority Ukrainian speaking, jutting out towards Kiev and with little geopolitical value and shorn of the most valuable industries that lie in the east towards the Russia border should those areas be forced out of Ukraine somehow.

The interim government in Kiev under Arseniy Yatsenyuk would be better off putting out subtle peace feelers to Russian speaking and ethnic Russians in Donetsk and Kharkhiv and not using such language about getting back Crimea and 'burning the ground' beneath the feet of pro-Russian agitators there.

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