The real bad­die lurk­ing in the Black Sea

The Mail on Sunday - - Peter Hitches -

HERE come the wicked Rus­sians again, mak­ing trou­ble in the Black Sea. Or are they? A quick look at a map will tell you Rus­sia is en­tirely jus­ti­fied in car­ing a lot about what goes on in the Black Sea. In fact, the Black Sea is to Rus­sia much as the Gulf of Mex­ico is to the USA, or the Ir­ish Sea is to us. In fact, more so, since the Black Sea is a dead end, not a pas­sage.

So how do you think we might re­act if the Ir­ish gov­ern­ment al­lowed Rus­sia to build a spank­ing new naval base on Dublin Bay? And what do you think Don­ald Trump would do if Mex­ico al­lowed Moscow to build a naval HQ on its Gulf Coast? I think there would be trou­ble. Yet amid all the ‘Big Bad Rus­sia, poor lit­tle Ukraine’ cov­er­age of last week’s clashes at the Kerch Strait, did any­one so much as men­tion that the US Navy is now build­ing an ul­tra-mod­ern mar­itime op­er­a­tions cen­tre at Ochakov, in Ukraine, close to Odessa on the Black Sea?

Since this cri­sis erupted in 2014, it has been about the West push­ing into Rus­sia’s com­fort zone, and Rus­sia push­ing back. We were told in 2014 that the mob in the cen­tre of Kiev were cam­paign­ing against cor­rup­tion. Well, nearly five years since that mob vi­o­lently over­threw a le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment, to the ap­plause of ‘democrats’ every­where, Ukraine is, if any­thing, more cor­rupt and less free than it was in 2014.

Poor Ukraine and its peo­ple are be­ing used as a bat­ter­ing ram in a con­flict from which they will get noth­ing. Amer­i­can and EU power is more and more strongly es­tab­lished there.

This is se­ri­ous. Ukraine is a vi­tal piece of real es­tate. Pres­i­dent Carter’s bril­liant strate­gic ad­viser Zbig­niew Brzezin­ski ex­plained it best in his 1997 book The Grand Chess­board. He said: ‘Ukraine, a new and im­por­tant space on the Eurasian chess­board, is a geopo­lit­i­cal pivot be­cause its very ex­is­tence as an in­de­pen­dent coun­try helps to trans­form Rus­sia. With­out Ukraine, Rus­sia ceases to be an Eurasian em­pire.

‘How­ever, if Moscow re­gains con­trol over Ukraine, with its 52 mil­lion peo­ple and ma­jor re­sources as well as ac­cess to the Black Sea, Rus­sia au­to­mat­i­cally re­gains the where­withal to be­come a pow­er­ful im­pe­rial state, span­ning Europe and Asia.’

Don’t be fooled. It is us mak­ing this hap­pen. The First World War was largely about Ukraine and so was the Sec­ond. The Third might be the same, if we let it hap­pen. I think Bri­tain should have no part in this fool­ish, greedy con­flict.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.