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    Going Out With a Bang: Here's Why Kiev Keeps Provoking Russia in Crimea

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    A diplomatic scandal is brewing between Kiev and Moscow over Ukraine's plans to stage missile drills over Russian airspace in Crimea. This is just the latest in a series of provocations; earlier this month, Ukraine abducted two Russian servicemen. Before that, Russian intelligence caught Ukrainian saboteurs trying to blow up Crimean military bases.

    With this in mind, the questions that must be on the Kremlin's mind are: why is Kiev making such a conscious effort to poke the Russian bear, and what could it possibly achieve in doing so? Answers to those questions requires a closer look at the provocations that have occured in the last couple weeks.

    To begin with, on Friday, Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency Rosaviatsia issued a formal protest note to Ukrainian authorities, demanding that Kiev immediately halt preparations to hold missile drills over Russian airspace in Crimea on December 1-2.

    Earlier, Kiev announced that they would be holding missile-firing exercises over airspace adjacent to western Crimea. The drills will extend into Russia's civil airspace and have been deemed a threat to flight safety.

    "Ukraine is violating basic principles of civil aviation, which demand prior coordination of closing airspace with bordering countries," a Rosaviatsia spokesman told Russian media.

    The Russian Ministry of Defense called the exercises "illegal" and summoned Ukraine's defense attaché to hand him a formal note of protest. Later on Friday, Duma Defense Committee Chairman Andrei Krasov warned that Ukraine already has 'experience' in accidentally shooting down civilian airliners, referring to a 2001 incident, when a Ukrainian S-200 missile shot down a Russian Tu-154 on route to Siberia during a training exercise.

    Krasov also stressed that Russia has "enough forces, air defenses and other means" to ensure the security of Russian airspace, and pointed to the recent deployment of the S-400 Triumf air defense system to the peninsula.

    Friday's drama took attention away from another scandal which began just a few days earlier, when two Russian servicemen were abducted by the Ukrainian military. The Russian Defense Ministry called that affair a "flagrant provocation," and demanded the servicemen's immediate return to Russia. The servicemen were whisked across the Ukrainian border after being lured to the area on the false promise that they would be given documents that would confirm that they have obtained higher education from Ukrainian universities.

    The servicemen are being held in the Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv. Russian officials have warned that physical and psychological pressure could be used against them to get them to 'confess' crimes against Ukraine. The two servicemen had earlier served in the Ukrainian military, and are being charged with 'desertion' over their decision to join the Russian military after Crimea voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia in March 2014.

    And that scandal is itself a follow-up to an earlier controversy which blew up two weeks ago, when saboteurs affiliated with the intelligence forces of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense were caught preparing terrorist attacks on civilian and military infrastructure in Crimea, including the Russian Black Sea Fleet's base in Sevastopol. On Monday, two more saboteurs were arrested in connection with that case, bringing the total number of suspects up to five.

    The stream of provocations by Kiev over Crimea this month has been met with bewilderment and concern by Russian observers. Commentators have pointed out that each of the three recent incidents was directly initiated by Ukrainian authorities, including the Defense Ministry, court officials, and the leaders in Kiev who must have sanctioned the operations. That is a serious step up from Kiev's earlier efforts against Crimea, which included the so-called water, food and energy 'blockades'. Kiev had formally blamed these efforts on nationalist activists, thus absolving themselves of any responsibility.

    Commenting on the reasons for the spike in reckless behavior on Kiev's part in recent weeks, Expert magazine contributor Mikhail Rogozhnikov explained that it is very likely connected to the international political situation which emerged following US presidential elections, and the unexpected victory of Donald Trump.

    During the race, Ukrainian authorities had openly sided with Trump opponent Hillary Clinton and engaged in an open effort to smear Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and by association, Trump himself. 

    Trump's victory has sent authorities in Kiev into panic mode, and they are now attempting to provoke Russia into a military response which would then force President-elect Trump to take a tough stand against Russia when he steps into office in January, Rogozhnikov wrote.

    The journalist also pointed out that Kiev's provocations are "taking place against the backdrop of new protests over the [deteriorating] socio-economic and political situation in Ukraine, which in turn is fueling Kiev's hopes to shift attention to foreign affairs and the military sphere." 

    For his part, political and military analyst Alexander Perendzhiev suggested that in addition to the international factors, Kiev's efforts, particularly the missile drills, are simply an effort to get back at Crimea, which is becoming more and more integrated into Russia with each passing day. 

    "Here we can recall the recent parliamentary elections, which saw representatives from Crimea become members of the Russian Duma," the expert noted. "All of this has brought about a sense of impotent rage in Kiev. They are pacing back and forth trying to come up with ways to [punish] the peninsula."

    Ultimately, Perendzhiev stressed that there is no way to see Kiev's provocations except as an act of aggression. At the same time, Crimean political scientist Igor Ryabov emphasized that while Moscow can and must defend itself in Crimea, it also shouldn't give in to Kiev's incitements. 

    "The situation in the world is developing in a manner that is not favorable to the regime," the expert noted. "The regime is collapsing, and can't expect anything good, unless for some reason it became a 'victim of Russian aggression'. Therefore, Kiev is searching for options to aggravate the situation."

    Ryabov noted that while Crimea's air and missile defenses are sufficiently strong, Russia should not ignore the new threats posed by the Ukrainian missile testing. "It's better to be safe than sorry and to cancel flights," the analyst concluded.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    expert analysis, expert commentary, sabotage, saboteurs, terrorism, kidnapping, missile launch, missile drills, military drills, provocation, provocations, Ukrainian Armed Forces, Rosaviatsiya, Andrei Krasov, Crimea, Russia, Ukraine
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    • avatar
      ivanwa88
      Trump's victory has sent authorities in Kiev into panic mode, and they are now attempting to provoke Russia into a military response which would then force President-elect Trump to take a tough stand against Russia when he steps into office in January, Rogozhnikov wrote.

      That's a high risk play there is no guarantee Trump would react aggressively at all towards Russia.
      No it has to be another reason my guess a conflict before Trump is inaugurated would give Obama the fuel to impose new heavier sanctions against Russia which by all accounts in media over the past month seems to be playing on the minds of Porky and his piglets.

      Porky is determined to keep maximum pressure on Russia and release pressure off himself to comply with the Minsk agreement.

      Either way rather than make a prediction on method Porky will be in for some unpleasant surprises in 2017.
    • Adrienne Adonis
      I think the west is forcing Ukraine to instigate Russia in any way shape or form. The west is forcing Ukraine to make unorthodox moves snubbing Russia in their own back yard. Since Ukraine is provoking Russia by any means , it only tells me that Ukraine was told by the west / EU that they will back up Ukraine militarily against Russia. That's why Ukraine is so brazen against Putin. They are being protected and assured 100 % support from the west.
    • avatar
      Michael Hill
      Make it one big TEST.
      Russia could test their S300s/S400s on Ukraines test missiles.
      Russia surely has every right if Ukraines missiles go in Russian airspace.
    • avatar
      slimyfox
      In my opinion the real reason for such harsh and very dangerous Kiev's provocation is actually scenario which CIA and White House did. It is simple, if Russia responds aggressively on Kiev's provocation war will be declared and USA/NATO will enter in it in order to support Kiev'a Nazi regime.

      By doing so Obama will be able according to USA laws to declare emergency and he will stay in power for as long as war will last. That is move of desperate desperados who do not care about people in the world but they serve to minuscule part of a percentage of the ultra rich known as neocons who desire war as a tool to transform control from the current resource owners to themselves in NWO.

      To tell the truth the situation is not good and if this provocation will bear no fruits than they would have to turn to radical and unmistakable aggression such as invasion under the pretext that they want their peninsula back. EU and USA would instantly confirm their legal rights and inevitable war will be there, and as already explained Obama would use his executive power and anti Russian sentiments in Congress and Senate to pass request for military intervention. That would as already said allowed him to declare emergency in USA as this time around it will be major world power as his adversary and the situation will dramatically change as so far not a single victim of previous USA terrorist, inhumane and illegal war was in no any shape or form endangering USA or their interests. This time around that would be all different as adversary is real world class super power able to erase USA from the world's map.

      Very tricky situation indeed as in such scenario Russia would avoid war only if it would withdraw from Crimea and handover Crimea to Ukraine. However there would not end Russian calamity as Ukraine would demand several hundred billions in damages and so on.

      I am sure Russians are aware of these possible radical scenarios and that they have some relevant answer on that. In my opinion in such scenario first move Russia would do is to replace Putin in first 5 minutes and bring a decisive person who will not compromise and hesitate to make instant and terrible bite in Ukraine simply by massive missile attacks causing immense collateral damages across W Ukraine only and threaten very clearly EU and USA that first false move will mean beginning of WW3 but on Russian terms with total annihilation of USA.

      We know that EU would instantly backed down and that would be moment for Russia to expand demands from dismemberment of NATO and paying compensations for illegal sanctions.

      Putin is not capable of such move as he would consult his personal friends oligarchs what they want him to do. We know their main interest is safeguard their loot and their demand will be in this context and if that means giving back Crimea so be it. Putin is the weakest link in Russian independency policy and has to have prepared appropriate substitute. Do not fool yourself that he is the answer as that is not true. He is not Russia nation hero, well not in a last three years which are marked with innumerable political blunders and bad decisions. His weakest point was, is and will be Ukraine, and I do not know why except that his personal friend is Ukrainian tycoon living in Russia.
    • avatar
      jelco_cathlon
      THIS is a NATO ploy, they want to test the Russian air defence, I'm certain AWACS will be flying all over to try and identify what kind of frequencies the Russian air defences are using, if they fire anti-missiles missiles. Don't fall for that. It's a spying plot.
    • avatar
      Darrell R
      Crimea is Russia, but as far as the west is concerned it is occupied territory of the Ukraine. The Ukraine is well aware of this, knows that they have western nations as well as their media puppets wrapped around their finger, any defensive measure Russia takes to defend this territory will be treated as an act of aggression by western media, they will use this propaganda to help keep sanctions and the Cold War machine alive. It's like a bad child that has his parents fooled and gets his siblings in trouble every time he decides to act up. They just want to test Russia until they react, if they keep it up one day it will backfire on them.
    • avatar
      Darrell Rin reply toslimyfox(Show commentHide comment)
      slimyfox, much of what you are talking about is an extreme example of what could happen, but it's not that unrealistic. The Ukraine has the west on its side and knows that any attempt by Russia to defend this part of its territory would be treated like an act of aggression on Russia's part. This is exactly what the Ukraine is trying to achieve. The Russians have to deal with this carefully. Putin is not perfect as you have noted, but he is a strong leader.
    • Adrienne Adonis
      Kiev is a puppet to the western alliances. The west is using Kiev to get closer to Russia and instigate ww3 ..... Even though it has begun via the Syrian conflict ...... No one admits it......
    • avatar
      cast235
      The LURING of Russian personnel is a war crime stipulated very clear under Geneva.
      IF ICC doesn't do a thing, then what's the purpose?
      They did WAR CRIMES. Why have an ICC to ONLY serve Washington purposes? GENEVA is NOT NEUTRAL.
      OPEN an alternative ICC in Russia. West can refuse to recon it. Make it very independent. Countries will sign up.
    • Jonathan Ferguson
      Slices through the propaganda like a knife through garlic butter! Whatever happens, Svobbies gonna Svob; don't let the you-know-whats get you down!
    • Jonathan Fergusonin reply toivanwa88(Show commentHide comment)
      ivanwa88, Looks like the 'cunning plan' of the cap-in-hand 'career resentfulist' Svobs isn't working out after all.
    • avatar
      ivanwa88
      The Soros brought and paid for 'slimy fox' seems to think US is eager to have a military conflict with Russia? and obviously never reads any real commentary coming from the US.Such as we have focused our forces capability to fight hybrid and smaller regional conflicts not a major military force.

      For all the pretense the US armed forces are in very low combat readiness in lacking both enlisted men and equipment including planes and ships that are ready for battle.

      No the US is not keen and has clearly stated so on numerous occasions over the last 3-4 months.

      Contrastly all the main Ukrainian leaders have openly pushed for sanctions to not only remain but to be increased in severity especially in last 3-6 weeks.

      Hence my post no as much as Obama would like the idea of remaining in power he knows that it would be impossible on many levels, notwithstanding a internal revolt possibly even a revolution.
    • Adrienne Adonis
      Kiev and the west knows trump will befriend Russia also trump,will look at the funding and military support presently to Kiev and decide to reject it moving forward. So Kiev and the west is trying to make Russia look Like the aggressor if they attack Ukraine. The main stream media is not reporting the provocations Kiev is presently making towards Russia but if Russia continues to be provoked and responds militarily to Ukraine then the corrupt main stream media will be writing article throughout the world making Russia look as the aggressor. This way even those in favor of Russia in the EU will begin to doubt their support for Russia. With that being said I thing 90 percent does not trust the corrupt main stream FAKE NEWS MEDIA so if they do blitzkrieg bad remarks against Russia it will fall on deaf ears. Only the corrupt western politicians will be screaming bloody hell but the people don't listen to them anyway.
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