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Crimea: Where the Crusades and the Cold War never ended

US Builds Up Military Forces, Threatens End To Diplomacy Over Ukraine
By Chris Marsden

Washington spent the weekend ramping up pressure on its allies to intensify the provocations and threats against Russia over Ukraine

S, Europe Step Up Pressure As Ukrainian Crisis Intensifies
By Peter Symonds

Tensions in Ukraine continued to mount as Russia denounced the threat of US and European Union (EU) sanctions against Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainian officials

Ukraine: United States Strives For World Domination
By William Blum

When it gets complicated and confusing, when you’re overwhelmed with too much information, changing daily; too many explanations, some contradictory … try putting it into some kind of context by stepping back and looking at the larger, long-term picture

Obama Comes Out Against Crimea Self-Determination
By Paul Craig Roberts

The White House Fool has repeatedly declared erroneously and foolishly that it is “against international law” for Crimea to exercise self-determination. Self-determination, as used by Washington, is a propaganda term that serves Washington’s empire but is not permissible for real people to exercise. In other words, the elected government in Crimea pushed by the people in Crimea to give them a vote on their future is “undemocratic” and “illegitimate,” but a non-elected government in Kiev imposed by Washington is the voice of self-determination and legitimacy

A Nation Is Not A Person: Now Let’s Talk About Ukraine
By John Spritzler

The current conflict in Ukraine is about whether the American ruling class or the Russian ruling class is going to dominate and exploit ordinary people in Ukraine and posess raw materials and militarily strategic locations there; it’s about how they will divvy up domination over Ukrainians if the Russian ruling class gets Crimea and the rest goes to the American ruling class. The conflict is over which Ukrainian billionaires will get the lion’s share

Crimea: Where the Crusades and the Cold War never ended

umm Abdillah, Radio Islam Programming – 2014.03.10

 

In the wake of Russia’s latest plans to militarily seize the Crimea from Ukraine, Yusuf Islam’s 1997 song The Little Ones is eerily redolent, writes Radio Islam’s umm Abdillah.

 

The song comes off the album I Have No Cannons That Roar, which was dedicated to the memory of Irfan Ljubijankic, who was killed towards the end of the Bosnian war in 1995 when the helicopter he was flying in on a mercy mission was shot down by a Serb rocket.

 

As war drums sound loudly yet again in the Balkans, or as one publication put it: “the Russian’s sabre-rattle on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula” we recall age-old ethnic enmities and political divisions. Not only within the Balkans, but also worldwide debates over the right of self-autonomy versus the territorial integrity of nation-states. Now too, fifteen years after the Kosovars’ secession from Serbia in 1999, Russia loudly proclaims Crimea’s right to break off from Ukraine while the United States calls it illegitimate.

 

Turkey

 

The peninsula’s long-suffering Tatar minority, who oppose Russian influence in the Crimea, are being forced to take sides and form defense units. There are signs too they may have support from Turkey.

 

Soner Cagaptay, author of The Rise Of Turkey: 21st Century’s First Muslim Power writes: “Historically, there’s a deep-rooted fear among many Turks about not waking up the Russian bear.” “If you look at Erdogan’s mercurial political style, he has pretty much yelled at every and any head of government he has dealt with, with the exception of the Russian and the Iranian president,” “not because he likes them necessarily, but because Turkey gets about three-quarters of its gas and oil from Iran and Russia.”

 

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Crimea

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, claims that his country has an obligation to protect the Crimean peninsula’s Russians, a majority of its population, from what he called an “orgy of nationalists, and extremists, and anti-Semites” rampaging through the streets of Kiev, Ukraine.

 

Crimea is now firmly under the control of a new, pro-Moscow government, which does not recognise the authority of the new administration in Kiev.

 

Crimea looms large in Russian history.  It was the site of the Crimean War fought in the 1850’s against the French, British and Ottoman Empire. The naval base at Sevastopol, on Crimea’s southwestern tip, is Russia’s only warm water naval base and its primary means of extending force through the Mediterranean. Without it, Russia is lost as a global naval power. It has been alleged that the port city has been used extensively to supply Bashar al-Assad throughout the current civil war in Syria.

 

The Geopolitics of Oil and Gas

 

“Russia’s Gazprom, controls almost a 1/5 of the world’s gas reserves and supplies more than half of Ukraine’s, and about 30% of Europe’s gas annually. Ukraine has recently signed a $10 billion shale gas deal with US energy giant Chevron “that the ex-Soviet nation hopes could end its energy dependence on Russia by 2020.” This agreement would allow “Chevron to explore the Olesky deposit in western Ukraine that Kiev estimates can hold 2.98 trillion cubic meters of gas.” Similar deals had been struck already with Shell and ExxonMobil.

 

The move coincided with Ukraine’s efforts to “cement closer relations with the European Union at Russia’s expense”, through a prospective trade deal that would be a step closer to Ukraine’s ambitions to achieve EU integration. But Yanukovych’s decision to abandon the EU agreement in favour of Putin’s sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package provoked the Kiev protests.

 

While Russia’s imperial aggression is clearly a central factor, the US effort to rollback Russia’s sphere of influence in Ukraine by other means in pursuit of its own geopolitical and strategic interests raises awkward questions. As the pipeline map demonstrates, US oil and gas majors like Chevron and Exxon are increasingly encroaching on Gazprom’s regional monopoly, undermining Russia’s energy hegemony over Europe.

 

The Ukraine is caught hapless in the midst of this accelerating struggle to dominate Eurasia’s energy corridors in the last decades of the age of fossil fuels.” [Source]

 

Muslims

 

There are about three hundred thousand Crimean Tatars on the peninsula, and although they constitute only 15% of its population they have great political significance. If they do not back the upcoming referendum, it will be far more difficult for the pro-Moscow government in Crimea to legitimise what is in effect a Russian annexation of the peninsula.

 

Russia has millions of Muslims of its own, the vast majority of whom are Sunni, including next door in the North Caucasus. Historically, the Crimean Tatars had close ties with the Circassians, who were driven from the Sochi area in 1864. And one reason why Putin has invested so much in backing Assad’s Alawite regime in Syria against the Sunni majority was his fear of Sunni unrest at home.

 

There have been fresh reports that Putin has been trucking in Orthodox Serb volunteers into the border region to cleanse Muslim Tartars from the Crimea.

 

Crimea’s Tatars are well aware of the deep problems facing their fellow Tatars in Russia’s Volga-Ural region, especially with regard to education, preserving their language and maintaining their media. Russia’s central government is pursuing a new policy of “Roosification”, undermining the Tatar language, just as it was in the Soviet Union. Moscow retains a blatantly and hostile attitude towards Muslim communities in Russia, as security services intimidate and persecute them, misusing anti-terror laws. If Crimea falls to Russia, it will become a brutal reality for Crimean Tatars, and end to the measure of the small freedom Tatars enjoyed within the Ukrainian state.

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Image Credit: A Crimean Tatar holds a banner which reads: ‘Crimea + Ukraine = Love’ during a protest in front of a local government building in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 26. More than 10,000 Muslim Tatars rallied in support of the interim government, clashing with other pro-Russian protesters.

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