Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 28.08.2018
Russia has announced that it will hold the biggest military exercises since 1981 next month. The invader of Europe in Ukraine projects that 300,000 troops will be involved, with over a thousand aircraft, in a thinly-disguised mobilization to be called “Vostok-2018.” Ukraine has announced readiness drills of its armed forces along the coast of the Sea of Azov, to resist a combined arms amphibious assault by Putin’s invasion army.
In its war against Ukraine, Russia has lately been increasing its aggressive actions on the waters and on the coast of the Sea of Azov. The 1st Army Corps (Donetsk or so-called “DPR”) of the 8th Army of the Southern Military District of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has been scaling up its bombardments and assaults on Ukrainian defenders in the area east of Mariupol. Russia partially completed construction of the illegal Kerch Bridge between Krasnodarskyi Krai in the Russian Federation and Ukraine’s territory of Crimea (temporarily Russian-occupied). Since that time, Putin’s coast guard and Black Sea Fleet (illegally based in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol) have been harassing, boarding, detaining, and delaying ships bound for Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol are under a maritime blockade by Russia, which is an overt act of war.
Ukraine is ham-strung in its ability to defend itself in the Sea of Azov. Under a Kremlin-compromised Kyiv government in 2003, Ukraine signed an “Agreement on Cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.” This treaty falsely asserts that the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Straight are inland waterways to Ukraine and the Russian Federation, whereas they are in fact both international waters. This agreement effectively restricts Ukraine’s right of national defence to the coastline itself, and not out to a 12-mile maritime limit of territorial waters that normally applies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has rejected advice that it renounce the Agreement on Cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. “The denunciation of the Agreement with Russia on the Sea of Azov is out of the question – this will let the Russian Federation claim there is a territorial dispute,” read a statement from Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry on Twitter.
The flashpoint of Russia’s next offensive in its war against Ukraine will be the Sea of Azov. The “Vostok-2018” mobilization-disguised-as-drills gives Putin’s invaders the means and the opportunity to launch new attacks. Under the Joint Forces Operation, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are well-positioned to stop the Russian army on the battlefront in Donbas. What is less certain is the ability of the Ukrainians to throw back a combined arms amphibious assault that will come from the Sea of Azov.
The only reason why Putin is contemplating a renewed assault on Ukraine is because other Western democracies are failing to help defend Europe. The job of stopping Putin’s invasion is left entirely to the Ukrainian people. This policy of ignorance is suicidal to Western civilization. Leaving Europeans who live in Ukraine to be the West’s sole defenders against Russian imperialist aggression is moral cowardice of the worst order.
A wider war against Western civilization is coming from barbarian Muscovy. Ukrainians are the vanguard of Europe and will fight to the end. Other Europeans will not get away with ignoring the existential danger coming from Putin at war much longer.