Introduction by Kennedy Applebaum
August 18, 2017
Political analyst Eduard Popov describes the dangers posed by the new naval base the United States has begun constructing in Ochakov on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. The author frames this act of aggression in the context of the history of that port, of US legal and illegal arms supply to the post-coup regime in Kiev, and of the expansion of NATO toward Russia’s borders.
Vladimir Putin must respond. But how?
One of the most disheartening aspects of this development is that President Donald Trump, contrary to my hopes and expectations, is proving to be more aggressive toward Russia than his predecessor Barack Obama, although I have no doubt Hillary Clinton would have driven us into a hot war by now. Still, it is hard to imagine the American President sending Russia a more hostile message, nullifying his campaign promises of “friendship” between the two superpowers. Has Donald Trump lost his mind under pressure from the Deep State?
Following Popov’s commentary are three short background articles.
We are grateful to Fort Russ for keeping us abreast on this topic.
US building naval base in Ochakov, Ukraine:
Will Russia respond?
By Eduard Popov
Translated for Fort Russ by Jafe Arnold
August 18, 2017
In Ochakov, Ukraine, in direct proximity to Crimea, the construction of an American naval base has kicked off. This was announced on the official site of the US Navy on August 7th, 2017. Earlier, on July 19th, the US Navy announced new cooperation efforts between its elite troops and their Ukrainian counterparts.
Ochakov, a port city on the Black Sea, was wrested from the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century by Generalissimo Suvorov’s troops. Ochakov is the birthplace (or one of the birthplaces) of the USSR’s marine spetsnaz, and in 1968 the island of Berezan became the new stationing point of the 17th Naval Infantry Brigade transferred from Sevastopol. Following the collapse of the USSR, the 73rd Marine Special Operations Center of the Ukrainian Navy was established there followed by the 7th Naval Infantry Brigade consisting of underwater mining, underwater de-mining, reconnaissance and saboteur, and special communications units. This is a rough equivalent to the American Navy Seals.
Back in Soviet times, the Ochakov naval intelligence training center constituted a unique base and drew top-class experts into its tanks. Even over the several decades of Ukrainian independence, the remnants of this former gem were not liquidated, although Ukrainian naval commandos did decline drastically in professional skill compared to their Soviet naval predecessors.
In other words, Ochakov has not been chosen as a US Navy base in Ukraine by accident. Ukraine’s naval forces are in a state close to clinical death, with a single detachment of marine special forces being one of the few combat-ready units of the Ukrainian Navy left, a fact thanks exclusively to the heritage – training methods, equipment, and people – which Ukraine inherited from the Soviet Union.
The construction of a US Navy base in Ochakov is not something unexpected. Since 2015, and perhaps even earlier, the Americans have held military instruction programs for the Ukrainian Armed Forces and National guard. At the Yavoriv training grounds in the Lvov region. 290 American commandos are known to be training Ukrainian National Guard soldiers.
According to military observers in Ukraine, there are three polygons (training grounds) at which American instructors are training Ukrainian soldiers for the Anti-Terrorist Operation zone in Donbass. In particular, my sources associated with the 128th Mountain Infantry Brigade (Mukachevo, Transcarpathian region) have posited that mountain shooters are constantly being trained in Transcarpathia. Moreover, American instructors are training not only UAF unit personnel, but also some Nazi groups, in particular Right Sector.
On the one hand, US Congressmen have demanded that American military aid not be distributed to Nazi battalions such as Azov and others. On the other hand, American commandos are secretly training Ukrainian Nazis in at least once place – Transcarpathia.
While the American military has long since established training programs for Ukrainian troops in Western Ukraine, their current “cooperation” is reaching a qualitatively new level with the establishment of permanent American military bases on Ukrainian territory.
On June 21st, the head of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, Andrey Parubiy, gave an interview on the program “Freedom of Speech” on ICTV in which he claimed that US military bases would soon be built across Ukraine as part of NATO-Ukraine cooperation. Let us recall that Andrey Parubiy is one of the founders and the chairman of the Social-National Party of Ukraine (which Oleg Tyagnibok’s Svoboda later grew out of), which openly professes the ideology of “social nationalism”, or the Ukrainian version of the ideology of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party. It is with such a “partner” that the US is developing military cooperation.
The Constitution of Ukraine, however, stipulates the country’s non-aligned status. The NATO Charter also forbids accepting countries which have territorial conflicts with their neighbors. Moreover, any induction of Ukraine into NATO would pose too many big problems for both the alliance and Ukraine itself. For example, Ukraine would be compelled to adopt NATO arms standards, and NATO would become responsible for “defending Ukraine from Russia” if we take NATO and Ukrainian rhetoric, and the realities of the New Cold War, to their logical conclusion. Russia, meanwhile, would not stand idly by and watch Ukraine be adopted into the aggressively anti-Russian NATO bloc.
Thus, the American political leadership and military command have chosen the path of least resistance. Yet the creation of a network of American military bases on the territory of Ukraine is nothing other than a form of military occupation.
Meanwhile, Ukraine itself will not even get the carrot of European Union membership, all the while receiving the stick of US-NATO boots on its soil.
In 1989, the incompetent Soviet leadership headed by Gorbachev and Shevardnadze claimed to have received verbal assurances from Western leaders that NATO would not expand eastwards. Since then, NATO has overtaken not only all the countries of Eastern Europe, but three former Soviet republics as well. In this context, the creation of the first “official” US military base in Ukraine is the next phase of NATO’s offensive to the East. There can be no doubt that Ochakov will be followed by other land and naval bases in both Ukraine and Georgia.
On this note, it is worth recalling that the American geopolitical tradition has christened this specific strategy the “anaconda”, which envisions suffocating Russia to death by bringing military bases up to its borders, a tactic which renders even the use of nuclear weapons hopeless.
In my opinion, the construction of the US Navy base in Ochakov will finally rid Russia’s leadership of any last illusions as to the possibility of reaching an agreement with Trump. Judging by the facts – and not the pre-election declarations of who is now the 44th President of the United States of America – an even more stringently anti-Russian line is being pursued than under Trump’s Democratic predecessor. Russia has no other option but to harshly respond to these anti-Russian steps which threaten the country’s national security.
I can only guess as to the reciprocal steps which Moscow may opt for in this situation. Some options have already been voiced by military experts and political analysts.
For example, one such retaliatory step could be recognizing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in the borders prescribed in their constitutions, 60% of which are currently under Ukrainian occupation. As a response to America’s legal and illegal arms supplies to Ukraine, Russia should legally and openly supply Russian weapons to the DPR and LPR’s armies. The next move would be for the Donbass republics. To this day they have bit their tongues and, under strong pressure from Moscow, complied with the provisions of the Minsk Agreements while Ukraine has defiantly violated them. With the opening of the floodgates of American arms deliveries to Ukraine (secret channels have been flowing since spring of 2014), both the warring sides will opt to abandon the Minsk Agreements, after which the Donbass republics’ armies will go on an offensive campaign aiming to liberate at least all of Donbass that remains under Ukrainian occupation. We can assume that once that starts and once the UAF starts to rout, anti-Nazi, and indeed anti-Ukrainian uprisings will spread like wildfire across the historical lands of Novorossiya. And then the idea of Malorossiya will be imbued with some sense of objective reality.
This is but one of the possible steps Russia could take in one of the conflict’s theaters, and it can take other forms as well. In any case, an answer can, will and must follow.
Russian Admiral: ‘US has become utterly shameless building naval base in Ukraine’ / Translated by Inessa Sinchougova (Politnavigator) / Fort Russ / August 16, 2017 / The construction of the command center by the US in Ochakov near Odessa is evidence that the US has become “utterly shameless.” The next step in Washington may be the transfer of old American warships to the Ukrainian Navy. This was stated by the former Commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Russia’s Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov. “By and large, I do not see danger per se. Moreover, the Black Sea Fleet is now receiving new modern weapons: submarines, surface ships, new types of missiles. I think that the Americans will not match it in this part of the world, but, in my opinion, they have become utterly shameless in their endeavours. They’re jumping out of their own skin in order to reach Russia’s zone of responsibility…” said Komoedov. The Admiral did not rule out that the US will give warships to Ukraine as they formerly did to the Baltic states. “I think that something old will be given. They have already trained many soldiers. Some kind of personnel potential has been created. Then there is the matter of technology, ” Komoedov said. At the same time, he does not see the danger of a military clash on the Black Sea. “There were clashes in Soviet times. I think there will not be such stupidities now, the international law on the prevention of incidents at sea operates. I think the Americans will have enough brains not to provoke, albeit they’d like to…” Komoedov said.
Entire Black Sea coast of Ukraine will become the military base of the USA / Translated by Inessa Sinchougova (Politnavigator) / Fort Russ / August 14, 2017 / It is imperative not to underestimate the importance of the news of the American construction of a command center at the naval base in Ochakov. In the future, the US plans to turn all of the Black Sea coast of Ukraine into its base. The Americans already have an fitting example – the deployment of their army at the Yavrovsky training ground in the Lviv region, which is one of the largest bases of NATO outside the alliance. The media finally noticed that in the Ochakov area of the Odessa region, the US Navy is constructing “the Navy Operational Fleet Management Center for the Ukrainian Navy.” Work began on July 25 and is carried out as part of the Foreign Military Construction Sales (FMCS) program. The construction is carried out by the first mobile construction battalion of the US Marine Corps (NMCB 1), the so-called Sea Bees. According to the website of the US Navy, this is only one of the three facilities currently being handled by the US military in the Ochakovo naval base of the Ukrainian Navy. The other two are facilities for maintenance of ships and checkpoints along the perimeter of the base. The network has already managed to joke that the checkpoints are designed to protect the de facto military base of the United States from the Ukrainian military – after all, in the constructed “operational center of the Ukrainian Navy” there will always be officers of the US Navy, whose task will be logistical work related to the presence in the region of American warships. The US military has come for a long time and are trying to buy the sympathy of the local population. As in their time in Yavorov, they repaired one of the local schools, built a football field and a basketball court for it “as a token of gratitude for the city hosting military exercises.” Some analysts suggested that Ochakov will become the main base of the US Navy on the Black Sea coast, they say, they will threaten . . . READ MORE>>
US starts building strategic Black Sea navy base to Ukraine / DONi News / August 8, 2017 / The United States has begun constructing a maritime operations center at the Ochakiv Naval Base in Ukraine, the US Navy said in a statement on Monday. Ochakiv is located close to Crimean peninsula and Ukrainian 73rd Naval Center of Special Operations is situated there. “Seabees held a groundbreaking ceremony for a maritime operations center on Ochakov Naval Base, Ukraine, July 25,” the Navy said in the statement, referring to the US Naval Construction Battalions, known as Seabees. The Seabees arrived in Ochakov in April to establish contracts, obtain construction permits and perform other logistical tasks for the maritime operations center project. The center, which is one of three projects that the Seabees will execute in Ochakov, will serve as a major planning and operation hub during future military drills hosted by Ukraine, the Navy said. “Beginning construction in Ukraine is a significant accomplishment,” said Lt. j.g. [junior grade] Jason McGee, officer in charge of Det. Ukraine. “Our ability to maximize European reassurance initiatives in Ukraine holds strategic importance, and will ultimately improve host nation defense capacity and infrastructure, strengthen relations and increase bilateral training capabilities.” In addition to building the operations center, the Seabees will also build a boat maintenance facility and entry control points with perimeter fencing at Ochakov.