Russia's target is not only Ukraine, but also Turkey and Azerbaijan - Vadim Tryukhan | Eurasia Diary -

14 May, Friday

Russia's target is not only Ukraine, but also Turkey and Azerbaijan - Vadim Tryukhan

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The rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia indicate the war is imminent. The parties are mobilizing all their forces both on land and in the sea. This is not only about Ukraine, which has been subjected to aggression and is fighting for its territorial integrity. There is also the United States on this issue, which has extensive experience in the naval sphere and is trying to say its word in the region under the guise of an alliance with Ukraine. The United States, which has already sent two warships to the Black Sea, is preparing to respond to Russia, which has begun to concentrate its ships.

But then another question arises - what is the role of Turkey in this situation? It is known that the only obstacle for the United States is the Montreux Convention of 1936. The United States, which was barred from entering the Black Sea 13 years ago during Russia's invasion of Georgia, is now making new plans to cross the strait and launch an operation in the Black Sea. Has the United States considered an alternative path, will Turkey become an obstacle for the United States again, or will it, to some extent, jeopardise its lukewarm relations with Russia?

In his interview with Eurasia Diary, Ukrainian diplomat and international political expert Vadim Tryukhan tried to answer these questions.

- As you know, due to the growing tension between Ukraine and Russia, the Black Sea may become a war zone. I would like to emphasise that Russia, under the guise of military exercises, has begun the transfer of warships from the Caspian basin to the Black Sea. It is also important that the United States is carrying its warships into the Black Sea in response to the actions of the Russian Federation. At the same time, the United States announced that it would support Ukraine in the sea. How real do you think this is?

- Above all, I would like to note that Russia is transferring certain naval ships not only from the Caspian Sea, but also from the Baltic Sea. First of all, we are talking about military landing boats, which is an unprecedented situation for the region. Indeed, during the 7 years of the war between Russia and Ukraine, Russia did not conduct such large-scale naval operations. Secondly, a month ago, Ukraine conducted joint naval drills with NATO, which then didn't cause any negative reactions of the Russian side. Moreover, no one can prohibit Ukraine from conducting any further joint military drills with NATO member countries in the Black Sea. I do not exclude that Ukraine will even make requests for some urgent joint military exercises in order for NATO to demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine and show Russia that no one will leave Ukraine alone with it, as it happened in 2014. ... Thirdly, in order to start military operations in any country in the world, Russia does not need any reasons, because Russia knows how to find such an excuse to raise a conflict. Therefore, whether Ukraine's naval exercises in the Black Sea will be held together with the United States or other partners, or they will not, - this will absolutely not affect Russia's intentions to launch a big geopolitical game. Now it is very clearly noticeable, especially after 28 battalion-tactical groups were concentrated on the borders of Ukraine, troops are being transferred from all over Russia and another 25 formations are being deployed, that Russia is preparing for a big war. In 2014, Vladimir Putin hoped that irregular paramilitary formations, which were formed from mercenaries, all local and non-local rabble and Russian career officers, could easily implement the Novorossiya project, tearing off 8 left-bank regions from Ukraine.

However, this venture failed because Ukraine was very quickly mobilised through an initiative from below. In the first few months of the war, the Ukrainians created about 30 territorial defence battalions from scratch. A huge number of Ukrainians volunteered and went to the front to defend their native land. The volunteers were able to quickly arrange for the troops almost everything they needed. Accordingly, the offensive of the Russian irregular troops was stopped. Even the urgent involvement of its regular military units by the Russian command did not help. Therefore, now Putin will not take risks and, if he decides to go for an escalation, he will give the order for a large-scale invasion by the specially trained troops of regular military units of the Rusian Armed Forces.

And the conduct of naval exercises in the Black Sea will not in any way affect the general atmosphere of a total lack of trust between Ukraine and Russia and the off-scale tension in the region as a whole.

- To what extent is the Ukrainian fleet ready to defend itself against Russia?

- You need to be more objective when assessing the combat readiness of the naval forces of Ukraine and the ability of Ukraine to withstand the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which, moreover, will be reinforced by ships moving from the Caspian and Baltic Seas. Ukraine is hardly ready to defend itself against an aggressor, especially in sea, in an open confrontation. But the task is not worth it to win naval battles. Priority is to prevent the possible landing of Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine from the sea, for example, in Odessa region or near other coastal Black Sea settlements, and to resist possible shelling from the sea at the locations of the Ukrainian armed forces and other strategically important objects, as well as peaceful cities and villages of Ukraine ... In this aspect, there is a certain optimism, because Ukraine has a number of means of protection against land-based ships, including modern anti-ship cruise missiles R-360 "Neptune", with a flight range of 280 km, and aviation is being strengthened. In addition, the factor of the presence of a high fighting spirit and determination in the troops is important, because we are defending our homeland. Therefore, the open preparation by the Russians of an operation to invade Ukraine from the sea does not cause anything other than bewilderment. Apparently, the main goal they pursue is intimidation and blackmail, as they usually like to do. And, of course, this is nothing more than an operation to divert attention from the main thing, which we may not be aware of. In any case, it seems to me that the beginning of the next stage of the invasion is planned somewhere else.

- Another issue is the provisions of the Montreux agreement. Under the terms of this agreement, depending on the size of the ships, the United States can cross the straits belonging to Turkey and stay in the Black Sea for only 21 days. In this case, how can the United States enter the Black Sea?

- This problem can be solved very simply. In the Montreux Convention of 1936, there are no restrictions on the rotation of warships of any non-Black Sea country. The United States is very powerful in the naval plan. It would not be difficult for them to rotate their ships, bring in some ships for 21 days, and then withdraw them and start others. Moreover, there are other NATO member states that regularly send their ships to the Black Sea. For example, the UK openly supports Ukraine in its quest to resist Russian aggression, as confirmed a few days ago during a conversation between President Zelenskiy and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It is also impossible to exclude Turkey, which has recently had certain roughnesses in relations with its European and American partners, but as a NATO member country, it has certain obligations to its partners, as well as certain threats due to the fact that it supported Azerbaijan in the Caucasus in the recent 44-day war. Therefore, in my opinion, Turkey will be on the side of Ukraine, which, incidentally, was confirmed by the results of President Zelensky's visit to Ankara three days ago. The main thing is that the naval forces of NATO member countries should be on a permanent basis in the Black Sea, as this minimizes the risks of the Russians starting military operations it sea against Ukraine or any other Black Sea country.

- By the way, when Russia attacked Georgia in 2008, Turkey did not allow American medical ships to enter the Black Sea through the straits. Do you think this will happen again, or will Turkey go for damaging its relations with Russia and allow any warship to pass through the strait?

- There is no unequivocal answer to this question, because we cannot look into the future. But it should be borne in mind that we are talking about a civilizational choice, and President Erdogan will face a dilemma - to take the side of the state that is turning into a terrorist state, that is, Russia, or to remain in the society of civilized states, in which Turkey has actually been from the time of Ataturk. Therefore, it seems to me that the diplomats of Turkey and the United States will conduct serious negotiations in order to find the most acceptable options. And by the way, just before our interview, two American missile destroyers just entered the Black Sea, there were no problems with obtaining permission from the Turkish authorities. And the fact that the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council a few days ago negotiated with President Erdogan in Ankara, despite the protocol embarrassment associated with seating, testifies to the desire of Europeans to find a new modus vivendi (way of life) in relations with Turkey and to achieve a rather difficult reset and interpersonal relations with President Erdogan. This is due to the emergence of problems in solving sensitive issues for Europeans, including in connection with Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. But I do not admit the option in which Turkey will fight, directly or indirectly, against the Americans or Europeans, including us, the Ukrainians, which is definitely not in its interests.

- Do you think the war in the Black Sea will turn into a confrontation between Russia and NATO?

- In this regard, I have the following assessment that explains how Putin needs to achieve 3 goals.

First. To become famous for centuries, leaving a significant mark in history. Kremlin propagandists and the Russian political establishment who support Putin are already calling him a "founder of Russian lands." But this is not enough for him. He wants to restore the former power that the USSR possessed, including to become on a par with the United States in influence and get his own zone of influence in the world. Realizing that this is possible only by creating a crisis, which will then have to come out together with the West, reaching a kind of "big deal", he deliberately goes into conflict. In October 1962, Nikita Khrushchev deliberately created the Cuban Missile Crisis in order to divide the world with the Americans into two de facto zones of influence. Putin's Russia needs influence in the part of the world that was previously under the de facto protectorate of the USSR.

Second. In terms of technology, Russia has lagged behind the West for decades and is currently experiencing enormous difficulties in fulfilling its social obligations to its own citizens and it is experiencing difficulties with filling the budget, as well as obtaining new technologies and components for the development of the military industry and other sectors of the national economy. Therefore, Russia wants the sanctions against it to be lifted and investments, technologies and components necessary for serious infrastructure projects that it wants to implement begin to flow again. Therefore, Putin thinks that creating a crisis and then looking for ways out of it will lead to a return to the status quo as of February 2014.

And the third goal is the most sensitive for the Kremlin. Putin clearly understands that responsibility comes sooner or later for any crimes. Since 2007, after his famous Munich speech, Russia, its citizens and its government bodies, on his own orders, have committed too many acts that have signs of crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes related to terrorist acts, as well as grave criminal offenses. Now Ukraine is waging a legal war against Russia in several jurisdictions - in the UN court, in the international criminal court in The Hague, in the human rights court in Strasbourg and in many national, European, American and other jurisdictions. This means that it is fundamentally important for Putin not to give up slack, not to allow the domino principle to be launched on the legal front, where she is forced to defend herself. Otherwise, many obvious problems will arise - tens of thousands of people, including him personally and his close allies will be brought to international criminal court.

And as far as possible military actions in the Black Sea are concerned, the situation is clear for everyone. If Russia, for example, by its aggressive actions hooks, for example, a French or American ship, then a direct clash between the Russian Federation and NATO will no longer be avoided. At the same time, one cannot even exclude a scenario in which military operations will be conducted with the use of weapons of mass destruction. After all, without use of such weapons, Russia will not be able to wage a war against NATO for any length of time. Therefore, the threat is actually very serious, the likelihood of a direct clash between Russia and NATO is even higher than during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

But in order to avoid a big war, which could become a third world war, due to the inevitable involvement of dozens of countries in it, it is very important that the countries of the civilized world demonstrate a consolidated and strong position, making it clear to Russia and personally to Vladimir Putin that the way they have chosen for themselves, will not work at all. This time, all people understand that we are not talking about Ukraine, but about a clash of civilizations. By the way, the fact that Turkey is a NATO member state, a candidate for participation in the EU, as well as a strategic partner of Azerbaijan, which it supported in the recent war with Armenia, indicates that both Turkey and Azerbaijan themselves are also under the threat of being drawn into a world war. This will 100% happen, if Putin's Russia goes on a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, challenging the entire civilized world.

By Elnur Enveroglu


Eurasia Diary

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