Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2 Dead in Simferopol - Ukraine Servicemen to Withdraw from Crimea

Yesterday Russian “self-defense forces” successfully captured the last land base in Crimea controlled by the Ukrainian military, further solidifying Russian control and sovereignty over the autonomous republic, which has recently been annexed into the Russian Federation after President Vladimir Putin and Crimean representatives signed the annexation treaty on Tuesday, which then gained parliamentary approval on Friday and was formally signed into law on the same day by Mr. Putin, thus creating two new Russian administrative regions, Crimea and the port city of Sevastopol, the home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The consolidation and overtaking of military bases by Russian forces in Crimea has been an ongoing process since Prime Minister Aksyonov requested military assistance from Russia after his appointment into the position on February 27th following the escalation of violence on February the 20th which all evidence and reports point to as being a provocation engineered by ultra-nationalist contingencies within the new coalition government (the Estonian Foreign Ministers leaked phone call, reports confirming that both protestors and police had been targeted and killed during the shootings, and the authorities in Kiev’s apprehension to conduct an investigation into the matter all point to complicity within the new administration in Kiev), the violence and loss of life of these events immediately lead President Yanukovych to surrender a majority of his powers after an agreement was reached between him and diplomats from the EU the next day on the 21st, and the following day Yanukovych flees to Kharkov, orders the security forces in the Maidan Square to disperse, and the EuroMaidan protestors, led by Right Sector and Svoboda Parties, proceed to seize governmental buildings along with the presidential palace and subsequently the new coalition government assumes powers over Kiev.  Immediately after this violent, armed coup d’état the southern region of Crimea and eastern Ukraine erupted in protests against the new Neo-Nazi/ central banker oligarch regime in Kiev (which enacted legislation targeting Russian speaking Ukrainians and censored Russian media, not to mention the Svoboda Party MP who threatened the head of Ukraine’s Nation TV station and forced him to sign his resignation, and the attempts by Kiev to arrest the popularly appointed ‘people’s governor’ of Lugansk), and shortly after Aksyonov is appointed Prime Minister of Crimea and requests Russian assistance, Russian forces then proceed to take control of military bases, airport stations and other strategically important sites and very quickly assume control of the region.   

Tense standoffs between Ukrainian and Russian forces ensued as the Ukrainian military personnel stationed at bases within Crimea were left in limbo within the autonomous region, heavily surrounded by Russian forces and completely without orders from their central command in Kiev.  Shortly after the March 16th referendum, an 83% turnout where and overwhelming 97% choose to align with Russia, a number which includes a portion of the Crimean Tatar population as well, Russian forces stormed and seized another Ukrainian military base in Simferopol, where reports confirm that 2 deaths occurred, one on the Ukrainian side and the other from the Russian side:

A Ukrainian serviceman and a member of a local self-defense brigade were killed by gunfire in Crimea…

 A BBC report also confirms this fact:

Crimean police later said both Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces had been fired on from a single location and that one Ukrainian was killed and one injured, and one pro-Russian was killed and one injured.
The BBC report also goes on to state that:

None of the accounts can be independently confirmed.

Despite this, Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has not shied away from professing that the Russian soldiers are solely responsible for this incident, despite the fact that no such evidence exists whatsoever.  Prime Minister “Yats” is quoted in the BBC report:

“The conflict is shifting from a political to a military stage.  Russian soldiers have started shooting at Ukrainian military servicemen and that is a war crime."

This unconfirmed and unfounded accusation is mirrored by State Department spokeswomen Jen Psaki’s own statement in which the exact same accusation was floated despite the fact that no new evidence to this effect was ever brought forward.  So an incident occurs where members of both opposing sides are killed, and immediately without investigation and without confirmation the authorities in Kiev automatically blame the Russian forces for the offense.  Sound familiar?  This is the exact same scenario that played out after the February 20th sniper killings, which was immediately used by the EuroMaidan protest movement to justify the illegal seizure of power from the democratically elected and legitimate, albeit inadequate, authorities in Kiev.  Immediately after the killings, despite the absence of an investigation and solid confirmation, Yanukovych was blamed for ordering the attacks.                   

This same scenario repeats itself over and over again in U.S. foreign policy, a provocative incident occurs and immediately after parties are blamed despite the fact that no evidence confirming these accusations exist.  We’ve seen it after the Syrian sarin gas incident where the Assad regime was immediately blamed, John Kerry professing that unequivocal evidence was in his possession which confirms Assad’s complicity beyond a shadow of doubt, this despite the fact that it was impossible for him to have this evidence considering the short amount of time between the incidents occurrence and Mr. Kerry’s protestation, the fact that a thorough investigation had not been conducted, and subsequently the MIT report which confirmed that the attacks physically could not have been carried out from the area Mr. Kerry had said they had been, and Seymour Hersh’s article which confirmed that the Syrian rebels also had access to chemical weapons despite Secretary Kerry’s announcement that only the Assad regime had access to these weapons.  Furthermore we have seen this same kind of false accusation during the build up to the 2003 Iraq war; Iraq, Syria, the February 20th sniper attacks and now the 2 deaths which occurred in Simferopol , in all of these incidents the parties are blamed without sufficient and adequate investigation into the matter, and the accusers in each scenario seek to gain by passing the blame as this would then afford them a justification to carry out acts of aggression and go about regime change, which is openly stated to be their driving motivation all along (there was no ambiguity concerning the United States intentions to ouster Assad or the EuroMaidan’s, in coordination with the U.S., E.U. and NATO’s, intentions to ouster Yanukovych.) 

Regarding the 2 deaths at Simferopol, Bangkok-based geopolitical analyst Tony Cartalucci writes:

“Yatsenyuk’s rushed and hamhanded political exploitation of an admittedly ambiguous attack carried out by unidentified gunmen exposes both the likely party behind the violence, and the most likely motivation for carrying out the fatal attack…
If the elected government of Ukraine refused to use deadly force against armed Neo-Nazi militants, necessitating the West to employ covert snipers to further escalate the crisis themselves, why would Russia, who already has won any possible Ukrainian-Russian confrontation on paper long before firing a single shot, be interested in covert attacks on an already defeated, rudderless, leaderless impotent Ukrainian military?”

Why indeed, it must be remembered that the Russian forces before this incident had gained control over a majority of Crimea, including its military bases and strategic locations, many of which were cleared of Ukrainian servicemen without a shot being fired, save the occasional warning shot fired into the air.  With progress like this being made in the region it is ridiculous to think that they would then resort to using violent force where none was needed. 

Either way, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov issued an order on Monday to re-deploy Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea back into Ukraine after the last military base was overtaken by Russian forces early on Monday:

"The National Defense and Security Council has instructed the Defense Ministry to carry out a re-deployment of military units in Crimea and carry out the evacuation of their families."

Meanwhile, Ukrainian army deputy chief of staff Olexandr Razmazin has stated that,

“About 50% [of Ukraine servicemen stationed in Crimea] joined the Russian side.”

The large amounts of defections come as no surprise, as Russia has offered the Ukrainian servicemen a very tempting offer:

“The pay is five times that offered by Ukraine,” [the captain] said. “The pensions are five times better, and will be offered 20 years sooner. We are told we would serve on the same military base. Defend the same soil, the homeland of many at these bases. Families living quite nearby the bases will be able to remain in their same homes.”

This coupled with the fact that President Putin has signed an executive order which would allow the Ukrainian forces to keep their military ranks while also recognizing their military education for those who express their will to serve in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.  

So now with the last military outposts in Crimea under the control of Russian forces and large number of Ukrainian servicemen defecting to the Russian side, the remaining servicemen in Crimea still loyal to the Ukrainian authorities are in the process of being re-deployed out of Crimea, which is a tacit concession of defeat by Ukraine to the Russian troops which now have ubiquitous control of Crimea, which is also now officially part of the Russian Federation. 

The fact of the matter remains however that Crimea is currently dependent upon Kiev for most of its energy resources; however moves have been made by the autonomous republic to take back control of Ukrainian oil and gas enterprises operating within Crimea.  A March 17th report from the Novinite news agency confirms that:

Crimean Parliament has approved a bill seizing assets of Ukrainian oil and gas enterprises operating in the region.
Resources owned by Chernomorneftegaz and Ukrtransgaz, entities dealing with extraction and transportation of fuel, have thus passed into the hands of local authorities, Russian agency RIA Novosti has reported.
The two companies will now be called "Crimean Republican Enterprises".
They will be controlled by Crimea's newly-created Ministry of Fuel and Energy, which also seems to control oil and gas ports across the peninsula.

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