New Book Tackles Crimea
A new book dissects the Russian takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.
Published: September 3, 2014 (Issue # 1827)
After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine had the second-largest armed forces in Europe (after Russia) and the fourth-largest in the world (after Russia, China and the United States). Twenty-three years later, when the Russian military invaded Ukrainian territory in Crimea this February, the country formidably failed to offer any military resistance.
On March 11, Ukraine’s then defense minister, Igor Tenyukh, reported that at the moment only 6,000 men in the country’s ground forces were ready for combat, only 15 percent of military aircraft were able to fly, and only 10 percent of air-defense systems were operational.
How this could happen? Who were the Russian “polite men” who infiltrated Crimea and swiftly blocked and seized the Ukrainian military installations there with thousands of servicemen inside? How did they do it, day by day? What lessons learned by the Russian political and military leadership after the brief war with Georgia in 2008 made the Crimean annexation such a successful operation?
The Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), a Moscow-based, privately-owned think tank studying military topics, has tried to answer these and many other questions on the historical, political and military aspects of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine in a book set to be published in the United States by Minneapolis-based East View Press in September. A collection of analytical essays by the prominent Russian and Ukrainian military, political and security analysts, the book is to be titled “Brothers Armed: Military Aspects of the Crisis in Ukraine.”
“We tried to grasp and explain what is going on as soon as possible, working on a border that separates journalism and serious academic analysis,” says CAST head Ruslan Pukhov. “Some articles may seem too hastily written to a picky reader. We will fix that in the Russian edition that we plan to publish early next year.”
While it’s true that some parts could use more attributions and footnotes to match rigorous American academic writing standards, the book still provides insightful answers to questions that inevitably arise with any inquisitive watcher trying to understand the uneasy political and military dynamics within and between the two formerly biggest and brotherly Soviet republics.
The books tells the story of the lengthy and painful divorce of the once-united Soviet Black Sea Fleet between Russia and Ukraine, and how Russia struggled to keep its portion armed and afloat while the government in Kiev sold many warships for scrap metal.
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