Russia has warned the U.S. and Britain they will be seen as “full-fledged” participants in the war in Ukraine if HIMARS or Storm Shadow missiles are used by Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia or Crimea.
The Daily Mail reports that Vladimir Putin’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu warned he will target “decision-making centers” in Ukraine, implying he plans to order his military to target President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top government officials in Kiev.
Shoigu said: “According to our information, the leadership of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is planning to launch strikes on the territory of the Russian Federation, including Crimea, with HIMARS and Storm Shadow missiles. The use of these missiles outside the area of the special military operation would mean a full-fledged involvement of the US and UK in the conflict entailing immediate strikes on the decision-making centers in Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, Lt. General Ben Hodges, a recently retired four-star general who commanded all U.S. troops in Europe, came out recently and said the goal for Ukraine in its counter-offensive should be to “retake Crimea” from the Russians.
This comment by Hodges has been characterized as an unnecessary provocation by several other military analysts such as U.S. Army Col. Douglas MacGregor (retired), former CIA agent Larry Johnson and former British diplomat Alastair Crooke.
Russia considers Crimea to be part of Russia while the West considers it part of Ukraine and this is the thorny issue that could bring the war to a new and dangerous stage.
Crimea has a complex history with Russia dating back to the 19th century. Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great annexed Crimea in 1783, a decade after defeating the forces of the Ottoman Empire in the pivotal battle of Kozludzha.
Crimea remained part of Russia proper until 1954, when the government of the former Soviet Union transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federation of Socialist Republics to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. This would be the equivalent of the U.S. moving the state of Maine from the U.S. proper to the U.S. Virgin Islands or some other U.S. territory. So when the West claims that Crimea should be part of Ukraine, it is defaulting to the Soviet era, when all Soviet republics essentially still answered to the Kremlin even if they operated under the façade of being an independent state.
And it’s an undeniable fact that a majority of the people living in Crimea speak Russian and would rather be part of Russia than Ukraine.
Western propaganda mouthpieces such as the UK-based Daily Mail, skip over all this complex history and simply report to the ignorant masses that “Putin forcibly annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014.” They refer to this peninsula as simply “Russian-occupied Crimea.”
According to the Wilson Center, the population of the Crimean peninsula — approximately 1.1 million in 1954 when the Soviets threw it into the Ukrainian Republic — was roughly 75 percent ethnic Russian and 25 percent Ukrainian.
The Wilson Center concludes that “The peninsula did have important economic and infrastructural ties with Ukraine, but cultural ties were much stronger overall with Russia than with Ukraine, and Crimea was the site of major military bases from Tsarist times on, having become a symbol of Imperial Russian military power against the Ottoman Turks.”
To remove Russia from Crimea would essentially gut its entire naval fleet, the bulk of which is stationed at Sevastopol on the Crimean coast of the Black Sea.
In March 2014, the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly in a national referendum to join Russia.
So until the United States is willing to accept that there are two sides to the regional feud between the folks in Kiev and the folks in Moscow, they will never be able to broker an honest peace. But it appears Washington is not interested in peace, only in dealing Russia a death blow. Because of this delusional path the U.S. has put itself and its allies on, it appears this volatile part of the world will once again draw the nations of the world into a devastating conflagration.
For more insight on this issue, check out the excellent analysis below from former British diplomat Alastair Crooke in an interview with Judge Andrew Napolitano.
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