By Paul Goble
Ukrainians continue to resist the Russian advance, but Sergey Marzhetsky, a Russian security commentator, argues that in the first 24 hours of this stage of the conflict, Moscow has achieved two of its three war aims in Ukraine with respect to Russian-occupied Crimea.
First of all, he says, Moscow has taken full control of Ukrainian regions on the western shore of the Sea of Azov thus guaranteeing it a reliable land bridge to Crimea and complete control of the Sea of Azov, thereby eliminating the possibility that Ukraine or any other country could use that against Russia (topcor.ru/24208-vojna-z-rossijskie-voennye-za-poldnja-reshili-dve-iz-treh-problem-kryma.html).
And second, “Russian forces have taken under their control the entire infrastructure of the North-Crimean canal, ensuring that the Crimean peninsula will finally have a reliable source of potable water and that no one will be able to use “a water weapon” against the Russian presence there.
But third, Marzhetsky says, the third and most important problem of Crimea, “unfortunately” remains unresolved – the legal status of the peninsula. “Neither Ukraine nor the collective West standing behind it has recognized Crimea as Russian,” something that creates any number of problems for residents of the region.
The Russian foreign ministry has been unable to secure a change in approach among Western countries, and so now the Russian military must seek “the complete and unconditional defeat” of Ukraine on the battlefield and force Kyiv to seriously revise its views and the structure of its state.
“One of Moscow’s demands can and must be,” the security analyst argues, “Kyiv’s recognition of the rights of Crimeans and residents of the Donbass for self-determination, Crimea as Russian and the DNR and LNR as independent states.” Whether the latter two join Russia can be decided later.