Putin’s "unsinkable aircraft carrier" in NATO’s southern underbellyIhor Romanenko
Crimea’s militarization is now in full swing. Russia’s actions on the arms build-up and strengthening of its nuclear potential on the peninsula are steps to implement the strategy, born immediately after Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation.
Firstly, both in the course of actions of the Russian armed forces, which resulted in the annexation of the Crimea, and later on, Vladimir Putin said that Russia was ready, if necessary, to go to war, including with the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
Secondly, Putin also said that he considered Crimea as a "fortress" and "unsinkable aircraft carrier," located in NATO’s southern “underbelly.”
Thus, the strategy was shaped and the vision was laid of Crimea becoming a geographical spot to be used for the Kremlin’s strategic military purposes. And if it is so, if this decision was made by Russia’s supreme commander, next comes the implementation of this strategy, that is, building up air defenses, strike units and warplanes, coast-to-ship land systems, as well as nuclear forces. Such actions are underway and evidence the fact that the strategy approved in Moscow is being implemented.
Secondly, Putin also said that he considered Crimea as a "fortress" and "unsinkable aircraft carrier," located in NATO’s southern “underbelly”
It has also been established, who the targets are of these actions. Reports about the measures on Crimea militarization are available on open sources, subject to internal consumption and also targeting the world community, especially NATO Allies. Moscow sends a signal to everyone, both its own people and foreign leaders. That is, Moscow presents its moves as those countering NATO’s eastward advance, while Putin has taken steps to prevent its southward expansion by seizing Crimea and developing the area in military and strategic terms.
It is not directly said whether it poses a threat to Ukraine. But it is clear to everyone - the experts and the current leaders of our state, the military leadership and law enforcement chiefs - that Russia has been militarizing the peninsula, including in order to exert pressure on Ukraine and, if necessary, to strike from the south.
That is, Moscow presents its moves as those countering NATO’s eastward advance, while Putin has taken steps to prevent its southward expansion by seizing Crimea and developing the area in military and strategic terms
As for Ukraine's readiness to respond to such threats from the south, on the one hand, today we are ready to a much greater extent than we were back in 2014. But, on the other hand, at the moment we need to act like we're doing now. We need to let the enemy know that their actions on the contact line and in the "gray zone" can no longer be carried out at will. That’s because Ukraine is resisting. Moreover, it counterattacks and, if necessary, it seizes at the tactical level some dominating heights, or areas, or settlements, which, according to Minsk Agreements were originally supposed to cede to Ukraine.
By the way, the issue of Debaltseve was raised numerous times, but Russia fails to respond – as if it’s OK for them to seize land. But now that we are regaining our positions, Russia’s propaganda screams can be heard anywhere.
Lt. Gen. (Rtd)Ihor Romanenko is a military expert, Candidate of Military Sciences, Doctor of Technical Sciences, professor, former deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine