As the Ukrainian government and pro-government press is busily and dutifully terrorizing the domestic populace, and equally attempting to stampede the Western public into a “humanitarian intervention” moral panic, with headlines like Over 103,000 Russian troops currently stationed near border with Ukraine and Russia deploys attack aircraft in occupied Crimea, it is also reporting on assistance from NATO nations in preparation for an armed conflict with Russia.
Yesterday NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu tweeted in response to Russia’s announcement it will bar U.S. and NATO warships from parts of the Black Sea near its coast, including American anti-ballistic missile destroyers which have established permanent residence there. To repeat, near Russia’s own coast. American guided-missile destroyers near Russia’s coast. Without any pretense of balance or restraint, she wrote:
“We are concerned by reports that Russia plans to restrict access to parts of the Black Sea and the Kerch Strait. This would be an unjustified move, and part of a broader pattern of destabilising behaviour by Russia. We call on Russia to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and allow freedom of navigation.”
The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov. With Crimea part of Russia again, the land on either side of the strait is Russian territory. As the land on both sides of the Dardanelles and Bosporus is Turkish. Russia has said nothing about preventing Ukrainian vessels from entering and leaving the Sea of Azov. Instead it announced that it would temporarily bar vessels from part of its coast near the Kerch Strait while it conducted exercises nearby.
As though Lungescu had not already made her tendentious and bellicose sentiments sufficiently obvious, she added this:
“We call on Russia to de-escalate immediately, stop its pattern of provocations, and respect its international commitments. NATO Allies do not and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. We fully support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.”
As to Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, Washington and NATO for some fifteen years have respected them by turning the Black Sea into a training ground for naval warfare with almost constant exercises and port visits to all the Black Sea littoral nations but Russia. (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine.) So far this year the U.S. has dispatched three anti-missile destroyers and a cruiser to the sea, often two at a time.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba recently boasted that “Western partners” – NATO member states – will provide his nation’s armed forces with military equipment, especially weapons he pointed out, in the event Russia “mounts a further, full-scale military invasion.” It is not at all clear which previous full-scale military invasion or invasions his comments imply.
In words that could have come from a movie version of Hector at Troy or David Crockett at the Alamo, Kuleba stated:
“If, God forbid, active, large-scale hostilities resume, we will be provided with specific, substantive military equipment assistance by a number of our partners, which will significantly strengthen Ukraine’s defense capability and help us repel the aggressor’s offensive.”
We have not yet begun to fight. Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes. The shot heard around the world. Couldn’t his American partners have provided him with rhetoric better than “repel the aggressor’s offensive”? On the American theme, he also urged Ukrainians not to trust and further circulate rumors that “an American brigade would come to fight [on the side of Ukraine].” That, he claimed, was Russian propaganda. A variant of “hybrid warfare” or exercising “malign influence” surely.
Ukraine’s defense minister, Andriy Taran, recently met with British ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons and afterward said that the British military will continue to train Ukrainian armed forces “as part of the ongoing mission in support of the country in the face of Russian aggression.”
The British training program, Operation Orbital, has trained over 17,500 Ukrainian service members since its inception in 2015. Last year British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed that the training mission would be extended until 2023. It is explicitly designed to transform the Ukrainian military in order to meet NATO standards: to be a NATO proxy army on Russia’s western border.
If a war between Ukraine and Russia should ensue, NATO has already identified itself as a belligerent in the conflict.
Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.