Ukrainian Foreign Minister: NATO Would Defeat Russia in Black Sea War

Today’s Ukrainian press cites the nation’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, confidently voicing a number of assertions regarding the Black Sea – as the U.S.-led, 32-nation Sea Breeze war games are occurring there – not all (or many) of his comments consistent with each other.

For example, he accuses Russia – he does little else in his professional role – of being willing to escalate tensions in the Black Sea region on the one hand, but still avoiding a direct confrontation with NATO as, he affirms, they would lose such a conflict on the other.

With those comments and others, it’s not so much a matter of how much of what he says is true, how much be believes it’s true, how much he’s praising NATO to secure its further support and services, and how much he’s simply blustering – or talking through his hat as the charming if outdated expression has it. What’s important is that the foreign minister of a nation backed uncritically by NATO, the U.S. and the European Union is making provocative claims of the nature he’s making. Claims that at root entail a confrontation between a nuclear power and a military bloc that includes three nuclear powers.

In an interview with the American magazine Newsweek published today he expressed the above convictions in these words:

“I do believe Russia is ready to escalate some local tensions in the Black Sea region, but I do not see them being suicidal. They may pinch and provoke here and there. But Russia will not risk a full-scale confrontation with NATO, clearly realizing they have no chances to succeed in it.”

He appears to be both taunting and attempting to humiliate Russia; simultaneously branding it a bully and a punk. In doing so he’s assured of winning new fans from the demographic that reads such publications. No doubt that was his precise intent.

Once Bulgaria and Romania were inducted into NATO in 2004, and last year Ukraine and Georgia became NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partners, the Black Sea became a NATO preserve. Of the six nations on the sea – Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine – only Russia is not a NATO member or candidate member.

So when Kuleba makes a statement like “In our conversations with NATO we are very frank on this: if things continue as they are, there is a risk that Russia may significantly increase its control over the Black Sea and further expand its influence in the region,” he is, bluntly speaking, lying. Nor was he less disingenuous when he added, “Which means elevated threats for the security and stability of Ukraine and NATO allies there.”

Specifically he called for further integrating the Ukrainian navy with those of NATO, whose warships maintain a permanent presence in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia, including the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. Earlier this year the government in Kiev announced it was opening new naval bases in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, both no doubt to be available to NATO destroyers, cruisers and frigates as are current Ukrainian naval bases.

In keeping with the prevalent if not sophisticated approach of Kuleba and the government he represents, one which essentially says to NATO that if you had militarily confronted Russia on our behalf before, we – and you – wouldn’t be in the predicament we are now, he stated:

“I am raising this topic in all of my meetings with both the NATO allies of the Black Sea region, Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria, and in the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Gradually, I see them hearing Ukraine when we ring alarm bells. Many things were done too little too late in 2014, and I hope now we don’t repeat those mistakes, acting differently with the full understanding of Russia’s intentions.”

Had you only heeded my earlier warnings, says the boy who cried wolf, we would have faced Russia down and forced the bear back into its winter quarters.

The foreign minister, in addition to addressing an American audience he’s been briefed on how to emotionally manipulate, also speaks in the assertive and saber-rattling manner he does with the full assurance that he’s backed by the West; by the U.S. NATO and the EU. No two members of the last two organizations are permitted to disagree on any substantive matter, except on one occasion the purchase of Russian anti-aircraft weapons. They are integral components of what in recent weeks has been referred to by Belarusian and Russian officials as the collective West. The totalitarian West would be a more accurate designation.

Referring to what has been called the Kerch Strait incident of three years ago, when Russia seized three Ukrainian vessels attempting to enter the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea through that strait, Kuleba said: “[It] is very important for us that the Black Sea does not repeat the fate of the Azov Sea region. We need to enhance cooperation between the Ukrainian navy and navies of the NATO allies in the Black Sea.”

If there’s some way of interpreting that statement other than that in the future NATO warships will accompany Ukrainian vessels crossing into the Sea of Azov and confront Russian authorities challenging the latter’s passage, the alternative reading is not apparent.

Kuleba also guaranteed that nothing would interfere with the ongoing Sea Breeze military exercises co-hosted by the U.S. Sixth Fleet and the Ukrainian Naval Forces. The drills are in their fifth day and will last until July 10. The only “something” that could interfere with the war games, of course, is Russia. Again the implication is clear that Russia is a threat but an impotent one. If NATO insures it is.

Ukraine’s foreign minister also took to Twitter today to invite world leaders to support Kiev’s initiative to evict Russia from Crimea and its Black Sea Fleet base, the Crimean Platform:

Here’s how he pitched the potentially war-provoking campaign:

“The Crimean Platform is multifaceted. We invite all countries to work on those aspects that concern them the most. Do you want to focus on human rights? Welcome. Freedom of navigation? Come in. International security, freedom of religion, environment, international humanitarian law? Welcome everyone.”

Everyone is welcome to join in the drive to expel Russia and its naval fleet from Crimea. Bring the kids. Come to the founding summit on August 23. Nations that have endorsed the platform to date include NATO members Turkey (Russia’s strategic partner), Poland (Russia’s strategic adversary) and Slovakia.

The world may soon discover who will win a war in the Black Sea.

Author: Rick Rozoff

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.