Russia plans to occupy Azov and Black sea Ukrainian ports?
Ukrainian ports Mariupol and Berdyanks, situated in Azov sea, are threatened by Russian regular forces (Not so-called “separatists”) advancing from Russian territory since the middle of the week. Many experts forecast further advance of Russian forces, aimed at occupying land corridor, required for land transport communications with the annexed by Russia Crimea peninsula. For all the purposes, Crimea is an island now, being cut off rail and truck roads. Industry experts fear coming winter may cut off Crimea from the only transportation sea link it has with mainland. Most of the goods required for the region’s survival are transported by ferries, which are regularly interrupted in winter season by severe storms and icing. Ferries were an auxiliary link before the annexation, now they turned into the main one.
This week during his visit of the Russian Far East Shipyards, Mr. Rogozin, the head of Russian Defence Industry, made a very interesting statement. He said that Far Eastern Shipyards, which are suffering a severe shortage of qualified labour, may soon be manned with specialists coming from Crimean Shipyards and … Nikolayev Shipyards. Nikolayev is the port and industrial Ukrainian center situated on Black sea coast, in a region bordering Azov sea Ukrainian coast. Mr. Rogozin (with whom I had personal clashes some five years ago, and who didn’t impress me as a, say, clever man) said, that “Nikolayev Shipyards staff won’t have much work, if any, in the very near future’. Mr. Rogozin is rather ambitious man always trying to look bigger than he actually is, and from time to time he’s spilling out some things Kremlin would like to stay secret. So, what did Mr. Rogozin mean? Did he hint at a plan to occupy not only Azov sea coast of Ukraine, but Black sea coast as well? Nikolayev Shipyards are the biggest yards in CIS, capable of building warships of size and class, which can’t be built by Russian Shipyards.