Top 5 Myths About Russia’s Invasion of Crimea
Published: February 12, 2014 (Issue # 1801)
Although it is well known that the first victim of nearly every military intervention is the truth, Russia seems to have broken all records in this category. Here are the top five Kremlin myths about Russia’s invasion of Crimea:
1. There was no invasion.
Media from all over the world have reported testimony from soldiers in Crimean cities who are dressed and armed exactly like those in the Russian army — minus the insignia. They have seized airports, border crossings and administrative buildings, and are pressuring Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Crimea to surrender. Nonetheless, President Vladimir Putin insists that the estimated 15,000 soldiers who have seized Crimea are local Crimean “self-defense forces.”
Putin has also said that the Federation Council’s authorization on March 1 of military intervention in Crimea has not been executed yet. What’s more, Putin said last week during a meeting with journalists that the similarity between the uniforms of the Crimean “self-defense forces” and the Russian army can be explained by the fact that is easy to buy those uniforms in any clothing store. Putin didn’t clarify, however, if these self-defense forces also bought the armored personnel carriers fitted with Russian military license plates, which were spotted in several Crimean cities, at these clothing stores as well.
Putin’s explanations have the same credibility of a 5-year-old boy who left the top to the cookie jar open and has crumbs all over his face — and then tells his mother, “I didn’t eat any cookies!”
2. Russians are in danger in Crimea.
There is no evidence that Ukrainians in Crimea — and certainly not Crimean Tatars — support Right Sector, Svoboda or other far-right groups whose base of support is limited largely to the Western regions of Ukraine. Nor is there any evidence, despite Russia’s claims, of “Ukrainian fascists” coming to Crimea to carry out attacks against Russians there. Even a group of Ukrainian Jewish leaders wrote an open letter to Putin on Thursday, admonishing the Kremlin not to exaggerate the fascist threat in Ukraine.
This is a repeat of Russia’s provocation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia weeks before the 2008 Russia-Georgia war broke out. Then, Russia’s provocation — also centered on the false pretext of “protecting Russian citizens in danger” — worked: Georgia fired the first shots in the war. Although Ukrainians have not yet reacted to Russia’s provocation in Crimea, it is inevitable that at some point Ukrainians will be forced to react to Russia’s aggression, particularly if Russia decides to use its weapons on Ukrainian troops in the peninsula. Once the first shots are fired, it is a slippery slope to a protracted and bloody military conflict between Russia and Ukraine that would likely drag in outside powers.
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