Azov Again 308

Yet again, the Guardian’s Hillary cult irrationalism leads it to a wrong analysis, this time in relation to Russian actions at the Kerch strait.

To quote the Guardian:

Russian forces seized the vessels and their crew and Moscow’s refusal to return them was the reason Donald Trump offered for his decision to cancel a bilateral meeting with Putin, which had been planned for Friday morning.

As Russian actions in the Sea of Azov had been known for days, there was speculation in Washington that the real reason for the change of mind was the court appearance of Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Thursday in which he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the extent and duration of negotiations with the Kremlin about a possible Trump hotel in Moscow, continuing up to July 2016, at the height of the presidential election campaign.

This is a deliberate misreading of the situation, and actually Trump’s actions have been correct and no doubt guided by the State Department’s maritime law experts.

As explained in my last post, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the Ukrainian navy, and any other vessel, has an absolute right of innocent passage to the Ukrainian coast through the Kerch Straits and the Sea of Azov. They do however have an obligation to comply with sea lanes and notification regimes established for reasons of navigational safety.

It appears Ukraine may not have observed the navigational safety regulations, so Russia had a right to take proportionate action for enforcement. The Russian action was a bit heavy handed, but probably did not stray over the proportionate boundary.

However Russia did not have a right to detain the vessels or the crews, other than briefly. This is specifically not allowed. So at some point in Russia’s continued detention of the vessels and crews, Russia’s actions switched from legal to illegal. The timing of Trump’s decision to cancel the Putin meeting makes perfect sense in terms of the stage at which Russia went from being in the right in the incident, to being in the wrong. In taking prisoners to Moscow Russia is very, very definitely in the wrong.

The situation is complicated by their being military personnel. Russia has to make a decision. If the claim is this was not innocent passage and the Ukrainians planned to attack the bridge, there is no legal option to treat that as terrorism. These were military ships and that would be war. Russia has either to accept that this was not an attack, or accept that it is in a state of war with Ukraine. You can’t treat military personnel from military vessels as terrorists. And Russia very definitely acted illegally in parading foreign military personnel to make statements on TV.

As expected, my last posting brought howls of protest from those of limited intellect who style themselves radicals, and who essentially take the view the Russians are the goodies and the Ukrainians the baddies, and therefore Russian actions must be legal. All of their arguments were intellectually abysmal.

The rule of international law is a very tenuous concept. It has great achievements, but has never been more under attack. There are proponents of the USA and UK, of Russia, of China, who plainly prefer a might is right approach. The hypocrisies are sickening. For example, there is no significant difference in the legal justification nor in the method of achievement between the realisation of “self-determination” in Kosovo and Crimea. Yet the people who believe the West wear the white hats will argue that Kosovo was legal and Crimea illegal, and those who believe the Russians wear the white hats will argue that Crimea was legal and Kosovo illegal. It is a sorry task to try to argue for impartial rule of law in these circumstances, as the partisan idiots will prove in comments below almost immediately.

With the secession of Kosovo and Crimea, I take the view that both were illegal, though I can see a respectable argument that both were legal. That one was legal (either one) and the other not, I can see no sensible argument whatsoever.

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308 thoughts on “Azov Again

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  • Kk

    Dear Mr Murray,
    Can you expand on this please?

    “However Russia did not have a right to detain the vessels or the crews, other than briefly. This is specifically not allowed.”

    What exactly are you referring to?

  • Casual Observer

    ”As expected, my last posting brought howls of protest from those of limited intellect who style themselves radicals, and who essentially take the view the Russians are the goodies and the Ukrainians the baddies”

    Maybe the howls come from those who have been around long enough to see that the Ukraine effectively see saws between pro and anti Russian governments, with the next move likely to be towards Ms Timoschenko, who is now apparently warm towards Russia ?

    The Ukraine’s real misfortune is that it is seemingly destined to be run by crooks who lean with whichever wind pays best at the time.

    As for Russia, it does very much seem that we in the west expect it to be some model of western democracy, when its sheer size might necessitate its rule in a slightly rougher manner ? What ever we say about post Soviet Russia, it must have improved somewhat since the days of Marxism ?

    To paraphrase Maurice, thank heavens for Russia, without them what would Williamson and the US defence giants do 🙂

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Since Theresa May has become The UK’s Prime Minister, she has given almost everyone the impression, that she is a pre-programmed brainwashed bot – like a robot, except her brain has been rewired to produce repetetive nonsense, that doesn’t answer questions, just comes out with various variations of the same string of words.

    I’ve been trying to work out which CIA connected US Company reprogrammed her brain.

    I can’t prove it, but I reckon it was the Ayn Rand Corporation

    Never did finish her book. I thought it was crap. No empathy. No nothing.

    I see they are still promoting war.


  • david

    Craig I can only assume that you haven’t read this:


    Meaning of innocent passage

    1. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.

    2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:

    (a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

    (b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

    (c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;

    (d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;

    (j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;

    (k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

    (l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.[]

  • SA

    As Craig is so keen that Russia should either declare war or release the sailors and vessels It is surprising that similar declarations of war have not been demanded by him and others in the case of US, France and U.K. open aggression in Syria and partial illegal occupation.
    International law has been rendered worthless by huge infringements by the USG and the allies hanging on its coat tails. Human right issues are ignored in some contexts but insisted upon by others. It is this lack of universality of applicability of international law that is to be deplored. But to concentrate on punishing or criticising severely a relatively minor infringement of international law and to suggest that the answer should then be more escalation by declaring war, seems to be a bizarre excercise in pedantry.

  • certa certi

    The Russian action was part of a pattern of escalations by both countries. This month Russia slapped sanctions on Ukraine and Ukraine responded by impounding the COMET in Mariupol and threatening terrorism prosecutions.

    RFERL –

    ‘Russia’s FSB has detained more than 148 Ukrainian and foreign merchant ships — many more than once — and interrogated their crew members. Such activities have not led to any shots being fired. But the appearance of armed Russian ships and the increased activity of its FSB alone mark a dangerous escalation.’

    Viewed in this tit for tat context of escalations, Kiev would have expected a strong Russian response, and deliberately gave Moscow a pretext. Both Putin and Poroshenko thought such a confrontation to be in their interests. Commenters here who have speculated that this is all about the Ukraine elections are correct.

  • Miro Sta

    Believe it or not, I definitely agree with your position. In this changed situation where leaders of many countries try to play the Hard Guys, it is not much left but to insist upon the rules of common Law (sense).

  • Tony M

    Just what is Britain’s interest in Ukraine why this inexplicable, inexpiable obsession, and consider has it been good for Ukraine?

    Consider that for five or more years after WW2, England’s trojanned establishment kept in Germany one of the major-league bloodiest hands-on war criminals, someone even before WW2 who was already convicted and incarcerated in Ukraine as a sadistic serial-killer and mass-murderer, the notorious Stepan Bandera, someone for whom torture and killing in the bloodiest fashion imaginable was not just a job, not just politics or war, but his over-riding pleasure in life. The government nominally headed by that nice Mr. Attlee, patron saint of all that is holy, harboured Bandera for years, providing immunity, accomodation, staff, cooks, cleaners, flunkies prostitutes, radio-transmitters, printing-presses to churn out the vilest anti-Soviet productions and ‘literature’ which still influences the post-war generation of Ukranians and their disturbed emigre populations, weapons and explosives to carry out sabotage, massacres and revenge operations in Ukraine and the wider Soviet Union, he was their man he lived at their indulgence. At enormous cost to the taxpayers too, in times of great austerity in the late forties for example, when people in Britain were dying of hypothermia and when the ideals of the NHS were being undermined by the introduction of charges for a specious shortfall of a few tens of thousands pounds, until at last his demands became just too much that running him and his entourage was handed over to the Americans who were (the patriotic and untreasonous of their intelligence services personnel) astonished that he was still alive and that Britain had been keeping him for in grand-style under their nose, since the war’s end until the early-1950s. His location and operations were probably known by the Soviets from the beginning of this odd and shameful relationship through Burgess, Philby, Maclean et al and then in turn to the nest of Soviet spys who infested the American security establishment; fortunately for the American purse and sparing their own and Britain’s blushes if that matter should come to light and become and embarassment to them, this human refuse was killed soon after they adopted him, probably assassinated, becoming a martyr to a thoroughly rotten cause.

    This was neither the beginning nor was it the end of Britain’s meddling in Ukraine, it continued. Bandera was just one string to their bow, one instrument for sowing discord, to stir and fuel the embers of hate that they hoped one day would flare and engulf the enemies of their distorted imaginations, would raise a great conflagration caring not that if it came, nothing and no-one could hope to contain it, only that they could (again) gorge their appetities on its people’s blood and on its resources and on its wealth. Countless bright young deluded things in MI6, in the Foreign(ers) Office, worked and work down in the sewage-clogged bowels of government where the smell is over-powering, beavered away by day and by night, ossified cerebral cogs in a bureaucratic weapon of mass destruction, burning the midnight oil, and climbing the slippery pole towards the loftier heights where the stench is even more emetic. They have invested their very being and their token shred of humanity in this outcome, they both ejaculate and they calculate as the long-awaited payoff hoves into view. The communist monster imposed from without, the justification once given for all this studied mendaciousness is long gone and their real and eternal enemy is revealed, it is Russia itself, pleasurable to them is the means: death and destruction, but loot and plunder the end they seek, their puppets again enthroned atop the smouldering pyre; however often and sincerely it extends the hand of friendship, forgives of their long tally of past sins and injuries, they spurn it.

    We are dealing with an incurable infectious pathology in the brain and in the heart of our system and of those once ever within it.

    Let’s call it Bluebirds (over the white cliffs of Dover) Disease, closely related to that other pernicious affliction American Dream.

    • giyane

      Clearly it’s Craig who is being deliberately stupid here. After NATO decimated Libya where Russia and many other countries had legitimate maritime interests through the Mediterranean sea, Russia refused to accept the next proxy jihadist war which was Ukraine and Syria.

      It was NATO that first decided to use proxies in order to avoid accusations of blatant illegality as in Iraq. As soon as one side is masquerading as innocent by the use of mercenaries, and refusing to face accusations of illegality in spite of common knowledge of their direction of the illegality, law flies out the window. That is plainly because NATO is in gross breach of international law. For Craig to point his legal finger at Moscow just shows him for the die-hard neo-con he really is. Trump has started to drain the neo-con swamp by destroying territorial Islamic State, which was constructed by Obama using Erdogan of Turkey and Barzani of Kurdistan.

      Barzani’s family actually said they were fighting terrorism while funnelling funds and weapons to Islamic State, and actually went to visit the Peshmerga who were being killed by Obama’s terrorists while he was assisting them, all recorded on TV for NATO propaganda purposes. So please, we live in a media age and anything which is used by the media is by definition downright lies , not massage of the truth.

      As for the Craig’s use of the word “intellectual”. The truth of the heart is always more accurate than the concoctions of logic from fake media pics , as he very well knows. Islam has a rule which is not to start a war. That is why it is totally indefensible for Saudi Arabia to start a war in Syria, Yemen and now Myanmar. But it was their allies in NATO who actually started the wars so that Saudi Arabia and Turkey ( Muslim Brotherhood ) could wreck them as Western proxies. Victoria Fuck the EU Nuland made it absolutely clear that Ona was not remotely interested in international law. Who lives by the lie, dies by the lie.

      So I’m afraid Craig’s military exercises will have to remain the level of spoons and forks and teacups on his kitchen table because it was NATO that first started to break international law.

    • MaryPau!

      There have been huge changes in Europe since the mid 20th century post WW2. TBH this is rambling gibberish and makes me think Tony M is either a troll or one sandwich short of a picnic.

  • Tatyana

    Is it possible that this blog was hacked?
    I can’t believe that Mr. Murray, being diplomat, is willingly calling his readers … offensive words.

  • Akos Horvath

    In addition to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, there is the 2003 bilateral treaty between Ukraine and Russia, which sets out the rules regarding the Sea of Azov. According to the BBC, the 2003 treaty explicitly states that third party military vessels can only enter the Sea of Azov with the permission of Russia. So your assertion that any vessel, including foreign military ones, has an absolute right of innocent passage seems wrong. I am no international lawyer, but neither are you, so I don’t know whether or not the 2003 bilateral treaty overrides the UN convention; common sense would dictate it should. The coastal states of the Caspian Sea signed a similar treaty this year, which explicitly forbids the presence of military vessels from non-coastal states in the Caspian. In light of the above, you seem to be overreacting when you call critics of your original post people with low intellect.

    Regarding the secession of Kosovo and Crimea, I think they both might have been technically illegal, but they were both morally right in my view and I supported them both.

    • JJ

      Wkispooks….Craig Murray…Aviation and Maritime Department (AMD), FCO, London. Responsible for negotiation of the UK and Dependent Territory continental shelf and fisheries boundaries, for implementation of the Channel Tunnel treaty and for negotiations on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

      • certa certi

        ‘Responsible for negotiation of the UK and Dependent Territory continental shelf and fisheries boundaries’

        And what a disaster that was.

        The US still refuses to ratify UNCLOS and denies EEZ claimants have jurisdiction over pelagics like Tuna. US Tuna Clippers based in California continued to fish inside the Pacific EEZ’s into the 1980s, when a few were caught and impounded, after which they moved to negotiated access agreements without surrendering the legal principle. The Brits could’ve pursued something similar over the medium term rather than the abysmally stupid confrontational then surrender monkey stance they took.

  • Radar O’Reilly

    Integrity initiative hysteria here as Russia invades Great Britain and tries to capture an entire army base of typists. The invasion involved , not tanks but a Toyota Avensis.

    The brave 77th brigade defended themselves fearlessly from the long siege, they all phoned ‘999’ and asked for Cressida, and plod gave them an incident number, aid they made that send a Bobbie round in a week or two, if any become available.

    If there’s another invasion then obviously the NATO article 5 will be invoked and the police will be phoned every five minutes until they send a panda, preferably with Brian Blessed inside…spectrum dominance in cyber-warfare?

    • Radar O'Reilly

      for “aid they made that send” read “and they may send”, I must be drunk!

      as are the BBC who are reporting this non-story.

      If the journo was doing illegal things – arrest him, detain him for a short time (put him on TV?, no)
      if he might have been doing illegal things then interview him prior to arrest, but it seems he not only was not arrested, but he filed a journalistic report on the UK’s psyops ‘nudge’ unit

      how is either of these things news nowadays?

  • Darren Connors

    Incorrect as to innocent navigation, as there is an agreement in place that supersedes those agreements. Disappointed Craig.

  • Tatyana

    Why talking about Azov Sea? If I understand it correctly, ukrainian vessels were moving from Odessa to Mariupol, and thus it is the Black Sea.
    Why saying Russia had no right to stop ukrainians from going through the Strait? The Crimean bridge is still under construction, I mean its railway part is not ready yet. There are engeneering vessels in the area, there are people working. It is natural to require a transition notification.

    I’m amused to see we are not discussing the conflict itself, but looking for appropriate paragraph of international law. White hats, goodies vs baddies… it is not relevant.

    It feels like (sorry for awkward comparison! ) as if I applied for violation of my right, and the application is turned down for grammar errors and some commas omitted.
    It may be legal to reject the application, but still it feels unfair and irrelevant.

    • Chris

      I have found your Russian perspective on things really informative, particularly on the Skripal topic, and this one. I am embarassed by the constant anti-Russian posturing of the UK government, and have much sympathy for Russia in much of what goes on in the world, but I’m sure the Rusian government sometimes does bad things, as all governments do.
      I felt for some reason that I had tell you all this before pointing out that Mariupol is definitely on the Sea of Azov, not the Black Sea!

      • Tatyana

        Thank you, Chris. I never tell that russian government is all over white. Never do I support its every action. They do good things and they do bad things.
        As to the Kerch Strait, I mean if ukrainian vessels left Odessa and were stopped from going through the Strait – thus they were in the Black Sea. Because one needs to pass under the Bridge to get to Azov.

        • Tatyana

          It is Black Sea. Also it was russian area ever before 2014.

          It is similar to the situation when someone drives into your car on your side of the road.

  • joel

    Given the absence of problems in the Kerch Strait hitherto, it seems pretty obvious this ‘crisis’ was crudely provoked to coincide with Putin meeting Trump in Argentina. By further happy coincidence it permits Ukraine’s monumentally corrupt and unpopular president to suspend the forthcoming election. Certainly not the hill I would choose to die on if I wanted to represent Russia as a menace to the world.

  • Sharp Ears

    I hope WW111 does not break out on this website.

    The word according to Mr Nuland. December 1st 2018. She was obviously poised to give this interview to a radio station based in Boston.

    PS Soon we can celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. I have a large poster displaying them on my bedroom wall.
    Preamble and the 31 Articles
    ‘Now, therefore, The General Assembly proclaims
    This Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.’

    If only……..

      • Sharp Ears

        and there are 30 Articles, not 31. Have woken up now!

        Nothing on the RT website directly about the confrontation, just these two relating to the area.

        Russia to build new radar station in Crimea, boosting cover of its southwest
        Moscow is set to start building a new cutting-edge radar station in Crimea in place of a deprecated Soviet-era one. The facility will significantly boost Russia’s capabilities in detecting and tracking missiles and other objects.
        Nov 29, 2018

        Russian anti-ship missiles filmed moving towards Kerch after flare-up with Ukraine (VIDEO)
        A large column of Russian military hardware, including anti-ship missile systems, has been spotted moving towards the Crimean city of Kerch, after Russian border guards faced off with Ukrainian ships violating Russia’s border.
        Nov 27, 2018

        A map of the region showing how many countries are completely landlocked.

        We are very fortunate to be ‘ this precious stone set in a silver sea’ as Will put it.

        ‘This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
        This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
        This other Eden, demi-paradise,
        This fortress built by Nature for herself
        Against infection and the hand of war,
        This happy breed of men, this little world,
        This precious stone set in the silver sea,
        Which serves it in the office of a wall
        Or as a moat defensive to a house,
        Against the envy of less happier lands,
        This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.’

        Alost laughable now.

        • Dungroanin

          Yeah Craigs next article is clear this British isle is NOT just England. The conquest of the adjoining countries on the island by the English (Norman initially) Lords has created a peoples who have submitted to a psychological self belief that we are happy serfs.

  • TonyF12

    Whatever the finer details of international law, it is stating the obvious that what happened in Azov was a wilful provocation with the unique intention of threatening and antagonising Russia. It parallels the strategy of what is happening towards China. I appreciate the detail is different, but the strategy is more than similar. Lawyers make their living fighting for their clients’ interpretations of the law, but the core issues have to be Cui Bono and Why?

    The West simply loves poking Russia and China with sharp pointed sticks, whenever the opportunity presents itself. It goes down well at home with FOX News and Daily Mail, and feeds the war industries so important to our economies. It is a compulsive sport. Washington loves it for its own reasons. Westminster loves it, not least at this time because it draws media attention away from the Brexit shambles.

    Early on in the Azov incident there were reports of UKSF SBS OA divers being present. Did you read any of these reports, Craig?

  • Dungroanin

    Ffs peeps, it has been fun watching the spankings handed out, CM’s hands must be feeling raw! But, watching the evergrowing queue of ‘spartucii’ wanting to also get their slapping is getting depressing.

    Anyone writing ‘But why..?’ Needs to quickly scroll through the previous article comments – it has all been said before and Craig has responded.

    If you still don’t get it, here is my hopefully helpful attempt (hope that i don’t get it wrong). Two mental experiments:

    1. Imagine these were Royal Navy boats instead of Ukrainian. Exactly the same event. What would the UK position be if the sailors were still in captivity or taken to Moscow or and Royal Navy ships were taken?

    2. Imagine the Royal Navy stopping Russian Naval ships from going through the Channel? Or Past Gibraltar? Or Nato stopping them in the Bosphurus or in the Red Sea? Or any such type. What would Russia position be if their sailors were taken prisoner and their military vessels taken?

    It really is not brain surgery – these imaginings are the sort of things that happen in a declared war or it start wars. Which means suspension of international legal rules of the sea which all sailors follow unless they are pirates.

    These are not civilian ships which have been pirated – they are WAR ships which have been pirated, by a Navy of a state.

    Maybe Putin’s Generals are pulling a fast one on him, as the nato equivalents have been trying with Trump, they are itching to get at their ‘enemy’ finally and settle it in tbe tradional manner? Or maybe Putin and his Generals have decided that exactly this scenario is what they were expected to avoid, so they didn’t avoid it, a calling of the nato bluff. A walking out into the street at midday and a face off – it is a very dangeous moment, that can easily destroy the whole town!

    I really do worry that religious crazies expecting Armageddon and the end of days are in charge in crucial positions who are quite happy to see the world burn, because there is a heaven waiting for them.

    The G20 seems to have not sorted it, or a few days are being allowed to pass.

    On that summit though looks like MbS not only survived being abroad without some attempted coup at home (like in Turkey & Thailand in recent memory); it also looks like PM May didn’t come out of it with the wooden spoon, but the reliable Macron did, heaping plenty of ouefs on his sungod visage.
    “You never listen to me” he sobbed trying out the line he was going to have to spout to his gilet jaunes. “We will listen to you” is what he imagines he hears, but is just the whistling of many more eggs flying at him.

    As the church bells get warmed up – i think Macron will need sanctuary sooner than May!

    • Tatyana

      Can we please get removed the first and the second sentences in the above comment by Dungroanin? I find it extremely offensive. The picture is disgusting.
      Thank you.

      • Dungroanin

        Ooh-err missus, I wrote the words, you drew your own picture 😉

        English public schools traditionally raised S+M types to serve in the empire building – that is how the pathocracy nurtured the psychopaths that terrorised far of peoples and lands on behalf of the financiers who rule the world now.

        I am sorry to offend your no doubt thoroughly innocent Russian sensibilities Tatyana, I didn’t mean to make you blush! I would imagine some Julie Christie type ingenue if i didn’t suspect that I may end up finding a Barbara from Royston Vasey instead!

        Still it looks as many here are still failing to get the message – ‘Doh! It’s the LAW, stupid!’

        (Please note – that ‘stupid’ is not a personal abuse of you or anyone else – it is a variation of Bill Clinton)

        Lets keep it real T.

        • Tatyana

          I understand your point, Dungroanin, I do really. I don’t argue any part of your comment, but the first two sentences. About you having fun while watching how people “get slapped”. I think it is mean. In russian we have word “злорадный” – evil joy, adding nothing to discussion, just laughing at other’s incomprehension. This is not a virtue, it is a feature in a person to be ashamed of.
          I do blush with your words, but it is not because I’m ingenue, it is because of low moral in the sentence.

          Not intended to offend you. Just to make clear my plea to moderator.

    • Casual Observer

      Francis Gary Powers and his U2 ?

      Yes technically not part of the US armed services at the time, but thats a paper thin veneer ?

      Overall, the status of the vessels and crew, if we use historical precedent are clearly not as black and white as presented.

  • Jack

    That premise is faulty at best, this quote below makes no sense:
    (“This is a deliberate misreading of the situation, and actually Trump’s actions have been correct and no doubt guided by the State Department’s maritime law experts.”)

    So the argument is that US canceled the summit because Russia broke international law in Kerch?
    Why then did Trump meet Putin in Helsinki summit in july, considering “US dept experts” view that Crimean accession to Russia broke the same international law?

  • Ewan Maclean

    Ukraine has frequently threatened and undertaken sabotage in Crimea and has specifically threatened the Kerch Bridge. It carried out a clandestine military operation. Russia detained the vessels and their crew. What state in these circumstances would simply let the vessels and crew carry on their way after checking their papers? Russia has worked very hard to encourage a political settlement of the conflict in Ukraine and has no wish to go to war. Ukraine wants Russia to respond aggressively in the hope of Western military support. Would it not be more sensible to commend Russia for its extraordinary restraint, and hope that other states act with similar maturity? And not pore over the laws of the sea to find some way to rebuke Russia to make some paltry political point. In the real world who has done more to maintain international law, Russia, Ukraine, the West?

    As I understand, Russia has pointed out from the start that, if the West accepts that Kosovo had the right to secede, Crimea had the right to choose to join Russia. 90% of Crimeans have consistently expressed a preference to be Russian. If I were Crimean I would prefer Russia to a Ukraine whose defence minister threatened ethnic cleansing. If I were a Serbian in Kosovo I would prefer not to be ethnically cleansed in the name of self determination. In the real world, who is the more to be commended, Russia for defending Crimeans against a regime that carried out a massacre in Odessa, or the US which armed terrorists to take over Kosovo?

    This nonsense about limited intellects is unworthy (I hope). It is uncomfortably like the treatment meted out to those who criticise our actions in Syria or our support of Israel. Who is it says Russia are the “goodies”?

    This is straining at a gnat and feeling righteous about it.

    • Ralph

      As reported in the FT Nov 25 2015:

      ‘Renewed concerns have emerged because of the approach that Ukraine has started to adopt towards Crimea. Although the Kremlin annexed it last year, the peninsula has no land border with Russia and its inhabitants rely on Ukraine for 70 per cent of electricity supplies. Last weekend, protesters blew up pylons carrying transmission lines to Crimea, plunging the streets into darkness and closing businesses.

      Much about this incident remains unclear. The saboteurs appear to have been Ukrainian nationalists and exiled Crimean Tatars. Kiev has been dragging its feet when it comes to restoring the power lines.’

  • Isa

    USA defence contractor job on LinkedIn to recruit USA forces for Ukraine 2 weeks ago :

    “Linguist candidates who speak Ukrainian to provide foreign language interpretation and translation services to support classified Contingency Operations in support of the U.S. Military in Ukraine “

    International law has been breached left right and centre by the west against Russia . While I agree that arresting the men is a breach I can understand why as everything has a context .

  • Mistress Pliddy

    Have to laugh, Murray digs a pitfall trap and then promptly blunders straight into it himself. Wonder if he even realises he’s down there. What’s more, he repeatedly slaps away the outstretched hands of those attempting to offer him a dignified way out. Quick find another topic for the blog and hope this one bumps down below the fold. One thing at least, the misguided indignation (let us be generous) is resulting in a slight increase in productivity here.

  • Monster

    Russia’s longer game with Ukraine is to seize Marupol which is the centre of the pro nazi asov battalion. The last block to the total occupation of eastern Ukraine will be gone and the security of the region would be better serviced. The Kerch strait is vital to the resupply of Ukrainian arms and equipment. So expect separatist to have another go at grabbing Mariupol by land and some help with a coastal assault from the Asov sea. International law doesn’t apply, as the US has only contempt for due process.

  • Craig, Craig against the dying of the light

    The argument about Kosovo vs Crimea is that
    a) Crimea had a referendum and Kosovo didn’t
    b) Kosovo was separated from Serbia by foreign military force followed by ethnic cleansing
    (Also, arguably, c) The population of Crimea was clearly in danger given the behaviour of the post-coup junta in Kiev.)

    I don’t know if those make any legal difference, but I would be surprised if the referendum didn’t

  • Ewan Maclean

    There does seem to be something about Russia causes Mr. Murray to lose perspective. When Navalny was refused permission for a rally, Mr. Murray sounded the alarm about the threat to democracy. When it was pointed out that permission had been given but Navalny insisted on parading through a historical reenactment fair, organised long before his rally, rather than the route agreed with the city authorities, Mr. Murray became abusive, or at least stroppy, as he has here. He has also warned of dark forces at work in Russia – and cited President Putin’s personal decision to join the Orthodox Church! We all have our prejudices and blind spots. We should all try to remain civil.

  • Jack

    Quote: ” Yet the people who believe the West wear the white hats will argue that Kosovo was legal and Crimea illegal, and those who believe the Russians wear the white hats will argue that Crimea was legal and Kosovo illegal. It is a sorry task to try to argue for impartial rule of law in these circumstances, as the partisan idiots will prove in comments below almost immediately.”

    The same argument could be made visavi Scottish independence. Being for/against such proposal doesnt make one an “idiot”.

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