March 5, 2014

Obama's wrong again: Crimea is a win for Putin.

Obama yesterday claimed that Putin was not being clever strategically in rushing into Crimea.  Obama is 100% wrong. Russian leader Putin claims he's interested in protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea which is why he's sent "plainclothes" Russian military into the region after Ukraine's recent .upheaval.  But Russia has ulterior motives.  It's about the money, and the strategic military value of the region.

Crimea has some strategic importance to Russia.  Consider:
The Black Sea is Russia's only warm-water port.

Though Crimea is recognized worldwide as a part of Ukraine, the Russian Navy has kept its Black Sea Fleet stationed at a naval base in Sevastopol (in southern Crimea) since the late 1700s. In 2010, Russia negotiated an agreement that allows the country to share the all-important Sevastopol naval base through 2042, in exchange for deep discounts of about $40 billion on natural gas from Russia.
The Ukraine, which is a very big producer of corn and grain, sends much of it's exports through Crimean ports.  Crimea also has it's own agricultural base and Crimea also serves as a tourist destination.  These things are important for Russia economically and for helping to feed Russians.  Having Crimea under Russian control benefits Russia economically, and reduces the dependence on the Ukraine.

And let's not overlook the fact that an international crisis increases gas prices, which Russia exports to Europe.  As tensions stay high, Russia can generate additional revenue as a result.  Obama  just doesn't understand geo-political strategy.  He's once again proving that for him, it's about making himself look good.  He's trying to save face rather than looking at the situation realistically and making decisions accordingly.

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