The Bear Bathes in the Black Sea Again
The Black Sea and the Turkish Bosporus have been targets of Russian expansion for centuries.
In 1774 the Russians under Catherine the Great conquered the Northern Black Sea coast and the Crimean Peninsula, which juts strategically out into the Black Sea. In an almost 21st Century move, Crimea was left as an independent state and then absorbed into Russia nine years later. This illegal annexation brought about another war with Turkey which allowed the Russians to gain more territory and be legitimized as the ruler of Crimea.
In 1833 it appeared that the Russians had gained their objective of controlling the Bosporus when the Turks gave them exclusive rights to send warships through the Bosporus and into the Mediterranean. However, this action threatened the English and the Russians were forced to give up their protectorate. Then the Crimean War of 1853 to 1856 with England and France was fought over the same issues. A Russian attempt to achieve its objective in 1908 laid the groundwork for hostiles between Austria – Hungry and Russia which led to the First World War.
So Vladmir Platin, following in the footsteps of the Czars, has once again brought Crimea into the Russian Empire. Using a strategy of “Protecting” ethnic Russians first perfected by Adolph Hitler in the Czech Sudetenland, Putin seized Crimea and threatens Eastern Ukraine. And feckless Western leaders, like their counterparts who gave Hitler the Sudetenland in the infamous Munich Summit, seem to have left the Ukrainians on their own.
There is no danger of a general war over Crimea or the Ukraine because only the Ukraine would fight. The real danger is that Putin will overplay his hand and force the dithering Western powers to do something. It could be in Turkey, now surrounded by Russia to the North and allied Syria to the South, where Russian overreach led to wars in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Or it could come in recently liberated countries of Eastern Europe.
This is a dangerous hour, and we need to pray that Western leaders will find the backbone and wisdom to withstand Putin’s aggression. We also need to remember that many Russians and Eastern Europeans are our Brothers in Christ as members of the Orthodox Church.
Let us pray for peace for our Brothers and all people in Eastern Europe.