Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why Ukraine Will Never Retake Crimea

Written especially for Russia Insider

The Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii Geletei is hardly a credible figure.

Not only did he recently declare that Russia had threatened the Ukraine with nuclear strikes, he even told a Ukrainian journalist that Russia had already executed two tactical nuclear strikes on the city of Lugansk (apparently to explain why the Ukrainian forces had to retreat from there). The Junta later denied the story and blamed it on the journalist who first published it.

Despite these antics, Geletei nonetheless caught the world's attention when he promised the Ukrainian Rada that the Ukraine would retake Crimea and organize a victory parade in Sevastopol. The Rada (Ukraine's parliament) greeted that promise with a standing ovation.

The truth is that this will never happen. Here is why:

By 2020 Russia will have completed the following defense plan:

  • 86.7 billion rubles will be spend to modernize the Black Sea Fleet. Modernization plans include the deployment of ultra-modern Project 11356 frigates and top of the line Project 636.3 diesel-electric attack submarines.
  • A separate army group, similar to the one in Kaliningrad, will be formed and a bomber base will be created. The ground forces component will include one Air-Assault brigade, one Spetsnaz brigade, one Naval Infantry brigade and one Motor-Rifle brigade. Earlier, other sources spoke of one or two Airborne brigades, two or three Motor-Rifle brigades and one Tank brigades.
  • The Russian Air Force plans to deploy Tupolev Tu-22M3 “Backfire” bombers in Crimea which will be able to not only defend Crimea from any threat from the sea, but also destroy key components of the the US/NATO anti-ballistic missile system now deployed in southern Europe.
  • Finally, Crimea will be defended by coastal defense missiles, air defense systems and anti-ship cruise missiles.
In other words, Crimea will become a formidable defensive node, an unsinkable aircraft carrier if you want, and an ideal location for the power-projection of Russian military forces in southern Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, the Middle-East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

No wonder the US/NATO wanted it so badly.

Speaking of the US and NATO – much is made of the presence of USN ships in the Black Sea. In reality, the USN poses no threat to Russia at all, at least not from the Black Sea. The Black Sea is an enclose and small sea, at least by USN standards, where any USN ship, underwater or on the surface, would be a sitting duck for Russian forces, especially missile attacks.

The USN knows that and what these USN vessels do in the Black Sea is called “showing the flag”. This has nothing to do with threatening Russia or Crimea. If the US really wanted to threaten Russia, the very last thing the USN would do is enter the Black Sea. The USN is a deep sea, “blue water” navy, which fights long-distance and not a littoral, “green water” or, even less so, a coastal “brown water” water navy.

Finally, history has shown that Crimea is ideal to defend and very hard to take. By land, Crimea is only accessible by a few open and undefended roads from the north. Centuries of warfare have turned it into a Swiss-cheese like structure filled with tunnels, underground bunkers and fortifications.

Last but not least, Crimea has now already been fully integrated into the Russian military's Southern Military District (based in Rostov-on-the-Don) and, as such, it would have the full support of the rest of the Russian Armed Forces.

The Saker