Recall Russia’s latest provocation (which amounts to an act of war), consisting of ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ramming a Ukrainian tugboat and firing on and seizing the Ukrainian three-ship flotilla of which that tug was a part along with the “detention” of the crews of the three ships.
Germany—Chancellor Angela Merkel—has magnanimously offered to mediate the matter.
The German chancellor phoned [Russian President] Vladimir Putin on Monday evening to emphasize the “necessity for de-escalation and dialog,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. For his part, the Russian president condemned Ukraine’s “provocative behavior” and said he hoped Berlin could “influence” Ukraine into refraining from such actions in the future.
The tentative solution hashed out by Merkel and Putin, Seibert reported, was “an analysis of the incident with the participation of Russian and Ukrainian border-security experts.”
The “provocative behavior” was the flotilla’s sailing past Ukraine’s Russian-partitioned and -occupied Crimea oblast on its way from Odesa to Mariupol—or its intent to do so at the time it was attacked and captured. Russia claims that the flotilla violated Russian territorial waters during the sailing and that the “provocation” was compounded by the presence of Ukrainian intelligence officers aboard the flotilla.
Merkel has meekly cynically accepted that premise, even though she knows it to be false. It isn’t possible for Ukrainian shipping—military or civilian—to violate Ukraine’s territorial waters. The only Russian waters in the Black Sea are well east of the Kerch Strait, roughly between Anapa and Sochi; that would be a ludicrous route for this flotilla to have taken.
This amounts to another German betrayal of Ukraine, following as it does Germany’s walk-away from the Budapest Memorandum (which Germany, a non-nuclear nation, avoided signing in the first place), wherein Russia (among others) guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and national independence if it gave up its nuclear arsenal (which it did), in favor of the Minsk II “accord,” wherein France and Germany (remember this EU axis?) urged Russia and Ukraine to play nice, accepting the fact of Russian occupation, along with pro-Russia rebels, of two of Ukraine’s eastern oblasts and that Russian seizure of Crimea.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has got to be having second thoughts about the benefits of joining the European Union or NATO. He plainly can’t count on either later with the EU axis (and key NATO members) selling his country out now. Ukraine would be better off in free-trade zone consisting of eastern European nations, the UK, and the US, and membership in a similarly constituted mutual defense arrangement. It’s never too late to negotiate such arrangements.