KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) – As the Crimean crisis escalates, the German Navy is dispatching one of its spy ships to the Mediterranean. The “Alster,” which had already been carrying out espionage on the Syrian war zone, is reported to have sailed from its homeport. Whether it will pursue a route through the Mediterranean to the Black Sea remains the Bundeswehr’s secret. With the Crimean conflict, the power struggle over the Ukraine is involving an area of utmost geostrategic importance to Moscow. The Russian Black Sea Fleet is stationed on the Crimean Peninsula, which is considered “Russia’s diving board into the Mediterranean,” where Russia has increased activities since 2013, seeking to counterbalance the USA. It is already being speculated, that the pro-western putschist government could annul the accord on stationing the Black Sea Fleet, thereby depriving Russia of this strategic position. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow has had to watch how NATO has expanded its position in the Black Sea – with Bundeswehr participation and at the expense of Russia. Crimea’s geostrategic importance explains why Germany – unlike in the case, for example, of Yugoslavia – is trying to prevent the peninsula’s secession and a rapprochement with Russia by all means.
Fleet Deployment in the Mediterranean
As the Crimean crisis escalates, the German Navy is participating in the international fleet deployment in the Mediterranean. The “Alster,” – which had already been engaged in espionage of the Syrian war zone – has, according to media reports, sailed from its homeport in Eckernfoerde and setting course for the Mediterranean. Whether it will pursue a route through the Mediterranean to the Black Sea remains the Bundeswehr’s secret. Two German warships are already deployed in the Mediterranean, as part of a NATO detachment; two more are participating in the UNIFIL mission. It was reported that Russia had recently deployed a nuclear-powered cruiser, an aircraft carrier battle group in the Mediterranean. The USA deploys an aircraft carrier battle group and soon probably an additional carrier battle group with two landing ships. In the Crimean crisis, accompanied by the fleet deployment, Germany and all other EU and NATO members are demanding that Crimea not be allowed to secede from the Ukraine and that the country’s division be avoided at all costs. The German chancellor reaffirmed this demand last weekend.
The West is Advancing
In fact, since the 1990s, the West has been incessantly making inroads into the Black Sea area – at Russia’s expense. During the confrontation of the systems, Turkey had been the sole Black Sea country that was a counterweight to the Soviet Union, however with the latter’s disintegration – and NATO’s expansion eastward – the western war alliance has been considerably reinforced in that region. In 2004 – Bulgaria and Rumania had just joined NATO – the “German Marshall Fund of the United States” published a strategy paper, in which the West was laying claims to the Black Sea region. “The wider Black Sea Region is the largest eastern interface toward the greater Middle East for Europe and the transatlantic Community.” To counter foreseeable Russian resistance, while avoiding applying a too confrontational or too cooperative policy, a dual strategy should be applied, according to the paper: “with Russia, if possible, without, if necessary.” In 2008 Ukraine made an unsuccessful bid to join NATO. The bid failed due to dissention among the western NATO powers. While Washington was clearly in favor; Berlin – seeking an exclusively German-European influence in Ukraine – was adamantly opposed. In June 2006, in relationship to the Crimea, the expert on Russia, Alexander Rahr, pointed out the dangers involved in both – the transatlantic and the German-European – versions of expansion. He warned, “Moscow would hardly give up its naval base in Sevastopol without a fight, and allow its Black Sea Fleet to be blocked inside the Sea of Azov” at the Russian Black Sea coast. He was speaking at the 134th session of Hamburg’s Körber Foundation’s “Bergedorf Round Table” which was held in Odessa.
Diving Board into the Mediterranean
In light of the current crisis, the German naval expert, Klaus Mommsen, has confirmed the great strategic significance the Crimea holds for Moscow. “For Russia,” it serves “as a diving board to the south, that means to the Mediterranean and the Middle East,” explained Mommsen. “The distances are very long through the Atlantic” from Russia’s Arctic or Baltic coastlines. Should Moscow “actually seek to have an impact on the Mediterranean” it must do so from the Black Sea. The Mediterranean plays “an important role in Russian foreign policy.” “The Russians do not want to surrender this region to the US Navy,” therefore, it has “revived a permanent Mediterranean fleet” in 2013. The significance of having naval presence in the Mediterranean could be most recently seen during the wars in Libya and in Syria. If the Crimea again falls under stronger Russian control, Moscow would have reliably assured its “diving board into the Mediterranean”. After all their efforts, after they even reverted to using fascist elements in Kiev and installed an illegal pro-western regime in a putsch, it can be considered out of the question that Berlin and the rest of the West will idly stand by and allow Russia’s geostrategic reinforcement.
Full article: The Crimean Conflict (German Foreign Policy)