Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 27, 2018

Ukraine - Poroshenko Launched Clash With Russia To Gain Dictatorial Powers - He Failed

The Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko's attempted to shore up his approval rate for the upcoming election by provoking a military incident. It was a gamble and it failed.

Three Ukrainian boats, a tug and two gun boats, attempted to sail from the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov. The Kerch Strait is territorial Russian water since Crimea voted to join Russia. "Innocent passage" is allowed but necessitates following the laws and regulations of the territorial country.

Depth chart - Sea of Azov 
Dark blue - less than 5 meters, light blue - less than 10 meters, white - less than 13.5 meters
shipping channels not shown - bigger

The Ukraine does not accept the decision the people of Crimea and insists that the peninsula is still part of its territory. The Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko sent the boats with the order not to coordinate their passage with Russian authorities. The captured sailors confirm that. He obviously wanted to provoke a violent Russian reaction.

The government of Ukraine practically admitted that the mission had nefarious intent:

Ukraine’s state security service says that its intelligence officers were among the crew on Ukrainian naval ships seized by Russia in a standoff near Crimea.

The SBU agency said in a statement Tuesday that the officers were fulfilling counterintelligence operations for the Ukrainian navy, in response to “psychological and physical pressure” by Russian spy services. It didn’t elaborate, but demanded that Russia stop such activity.

Russia’s FSB intelligence agency said late Monday that that there were SBU officers on board the Ukrainian ships, calling that proof of a “provocation” staged by Ukraine.

The SBU is the incompetent spy service that faked the murder of the Arkady Babchenko as part of a corporate raid.

What is the real reason that its agents were on board of the Ukrainian gun boats?

And why was the crew of the tug armed with heavy machine guns?


A few of the Ukrainian seaman were lightly wounded when the Russian coast guard took a shot at one of the boats.


The gun boats of the Gurza-M class were built on a shipyard that Poroshenko owned at that time. He profited from ordering them. They may be useful for river policing but do not belong at sea.

The Russian coast guard had no problem to disable the ships and to capture their crews. A Crimean court ordered that the sailors will be held for two more month while they face charges over border violations.

In 1988 the U.S. tried to pull up a similar stunt in the Black Sea. Two U.S. Navy ships with spying equipment crossed into Soviet territorial water near Crimea. They got rammed (vid) by Soviet ships and were smart enough to move out before the situation escalated further.

Poroshenko's intent was to provoke an incident that would allow him to present himself as a war-president. Elections are coming up and all polls show him below 10% and far behind two other candidates. He attempted to use the incident to introduce martial law over all the Ukraine.

Martial law would give Poroshenko full control over the country. He would be able to remove any regional or local government, to shut down the political opposition and to censor the media. He would be able to postpone the upcoming elections indefinitely.

Back in July Yulia Tymoshenko, who is leading the polls for the next elections, warned that Poroshenko would take this step (machine translation):

The leader of Batkivshchyna, Yulia Tymoshenko, claims that one of her main competitors in the upcoming presidential election, the incumbent head of state, Petro Poroshenko, is allegedly nurturing a “extremely dangerous plan” to disrupt voting by escalating the war in Donbass and imposing martial law in Ukraine. The politician made such a statement on the TV channel UA: First.

Tymoshenko stated that Poroshenko "does not want" to hold presidential elections in order to "save power", ...

Yesterday Poroshenko tried to scare the parliament into accepting his plans:

“Intelligence data speak of an extremely serious threat,” Poroshenko declared in a televised address on Monday, brandishing a pile of paper, which, he said, was an intelligence report detailing the Russian forces massed close to the border. At a session of the United Nations Security Council called at Ukraine’s request late on Monday, the country’s representative, Volodymyr Yelchenko, claimed the Azov Sea ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk faced invasion.

That is of course utter nonsense. Russia has no interest in launching a war with the Ukraine. There is nothing to gain from it.

The parliament must vote on the introduction of martial law and the opposition parties recognized Poroshenko's stunt for what it was. His plans were rejected. Poroshenko pulled back. Instead of the 60 day long, renewable period of martial law he wanted, he had to settle for 30 days. And that was still not enough:

Rival political parties - former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi’s Self-Help and populist Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party – demanded further concessions. They wanted immediate confirmation, rather than just a promise, that the election will go ahead on March 31. They sought to limit martial law to a number of regions rather the whole country, and they objected to any plans to limit Ukrainians’ constitutional freedoms. Their fear wasn’t just that campaigning would be limited, but that Poroshenko would get near-dictatorial powers.

There will now be a limited martial law but only in those regions that border Russia or the Black Sea. These are the Russian speaking regions which did not vote for Poroshenko in the 2014 elections. The opposition and its foreign backers will hopefully take care that the martial law  use will not get out of hand. There will be a limited call-up of reserve troops, but most of the reservists are to likely ignore it.

With the election date set to March 31 by the parliament Poroshenko has no legal tool to postpone it.

Unless of course he manages to provoke a real war, either with the rebels who are holding the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, or with Russia itself. The lunatic warmongers at the Atlantic Council urge him to do exactly that:

Even though Ukraine is outgunned, it does have options. It can undertake operations to break the blockade, though they would likely be fruitless given the forces Moscow has sent there.

Nevertheless, it cannot accept this attack on its sovereignty and integrity passively. Ukraine should give careful consideration to a special operation that might disrupt the bridge that Moscow built over the Kerch Strait that joins Crimea to Russia.

But that’s not all. Ukraine should invite the United States and NATO to send a fleet of armed ships to visit Mariupol, the main city on the Sea of Azov coast and defy Russia to fire on or block NATO from exercising the right to visit Ukraine’s ports. Those ships should be armed and have air cover but be instructed not to fire unless fired upon.

Even Poroshenko is not dumb enough to repeat his failed provocation in the Kerch Strait. The Kerch bridge is guarded. Its pillars are massive because it was build near a fault and has be able to withstand earthquakes. A saboteur unit would have to bring several tons of high explosives to even damage one. To reach Mariupol in the Sea of Azov ships have to cross through the the Kerch Strait. The passage is a very narrow artificial channel with only 8 meter depth. Outside of the channel the water is as shallow as a think tankers thought. Any ship with more than 2-3 meters draft has zero room to navigate there. Russia does not even need boats or airplanes to protect it. A few guns along the coast can easily control the passage. No sane naval commander will try to pass the Strait by force.


Russia already warned warned against further 'reckless' moves and deployed an anti-ship missile system (vid) to the Kerch Strait to make sure that any further provocations there will have deadly consequences.

Poroshenko could start a provocation elsewhere. He could attempt to reconquer the Donetzk airport. But while he might itch for losing more fights, a full blown war is out of question. Kiev's army is low on morale and would be defeated within days.

Poroshenko's rule was catastrophic for the Ukraine. In several cities the central heating and warm water supply is broken. Ten-thousands will have to freeze during the winter, some of them to death. Since Poroshenko came to power millions of able Ukrainian workers have fled or work abroad, most of them to Russia. The most industrialized regions are in firmly in rebel hands. Most of the population is poor, the bureaucracy is utterly corrupt and the country is practically bankrupt.

There will likely be dozens of corruption cases brought up against Poroshenko himself as soon as he loses power. If he is smart he will flee the Ukraine the very day his term ends.

The international reactions showed that Poroshenko is no longer of value. While the russo-phobe Poland and the Baltic countries called for more sanction against Russia the European heavyweights Germany and France urged deescalation and direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. (Sources in Berlin say that Merkel firmly told him to stand down.) The U.S. reaction was delayed and mild. Trump punted the problem to the Europeans.

Pedro Poroshenko will leave the political stage as a despised man. But will also be much richer after he pilfered the Ukrainian state wherever he could. The people of the Ukraine should take their money back before dumping him abroad.

Posted by b on November 27, 2018 at 19:25 UTC | Permalink

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craig murray's take... i am not sure i fully concur..

The Murky Sea of Azov

Posted by: james | Nov 29 2018 15:55 utc | 101

While the world concentrates on the conflict around the Sea of Azov, the US Britain France and Israel are massivly beefing up their activities in Syria, especially at al Tanf. What are they up to?

With Azov Sea Events Stealing Spotlight, US Gathers Huge Military Force in and Around Syria

Is this a plan to try to knock out the air defences in Syria perhaps?

In my opinion Russia ought to issue specific threats of force against the perpetrators of any such attempt in advance, to make it clear to the US Britain France and Israel that they would definitely sustain unacceptable losses should they go ahead. They should also use electromagnetic interference to destroy US communications and block their activities, at al Tanf, in northern Syria, and in Syrian airspace. The US should be withdrawing from al Tanf. It is completely unacceptable that they are reinforcing it with thousands more troops.

Posted by: BM | Nov 29 2018 16:12 utc | 102

craig murray's take... i am not sure i fully concur..
The Murky Sea of Azov
Posted by: james | Nov 29, 2018 10:55:43 AM | 101

Craig Murray gets incredibly full of himself at times, so much so that he is not able to see 50cm in front of his own eyes. His argument is complete crap. Ukrainian military vessels have the right of "innocent passage" provided they conform to the legal requirements of the coastal state (i.e. Russia), and provided they behave peacefully and innocently. By deliberately trying to force their way into the strait and refusing to obey commands from the Russian vessels, the Ukraininan vessels show they were the exact opposite of "innocent" and therefore automatically have NO right of passage. Furthermore, the two gunboats uncovered their 30mm cannons and pointed them at the Russian coastguard ships threateningly.

If this had happened in US or UK or Israeli territorial waters the offending ships would NOT have been detained - they would have been immediately destroyed using missiles. By contrast, the Russians were so nice they even fired a non-exploding shell at one of the ships as warning, resulting in very few very minor casualties, following which the ships promptly surrendered. To claim that Russia is wrong to detain the ship and arrest the crew is completely mad. Craig has gone off his rocker.

Supposing Russian military vessels illegally entered British territorial waters, refused to heed orders of the Royal Navy, and then threatened Royal Navy ships with 30mm cannons. How would the British react? Anyone who thinks they would just give the Russians a pat on the back and send them on their way is stark raving mad.

Posted by: BM | Nov 29 2018 16:57 utc | 103

@ james | Nov 29, 2018 10:55:43 AM | 101; BM | Nov 29, 2018 11:57:23 AM | 103

As it happens, I just read this Murray post and find it entirely specious.

I only started reading Murray regularly this summer, but by now I know to beware when Murray makes a point of admitting that a particular post is sure to be unpopular with many readers. He recently posted a surprising and dubious tribute to George Soros that included similar defensive footwork.

I think it's Murray's way of tacitly acknowledging that his view is wrong-headed, but that he will defiantly stand by it despite being effectively criticized by commenters.

In any case, BM quite rightly objects to Murray's extremely selective and narrow choice of facts upon which to base his opening assertion that "Prima facie, it is Russia which is acting illegally in the Kerch Strait."

Although he claims that those who exclusively fault the Ukraine side are merely displaying knee-jerk bias, Murray is the one who deliberately refuses to see the forest for the trees-- or, put more legalistically, fails to consider "the totality of the circumstances".

This willful myopia is reflected in Murray's numerous replies to commenters in the thread accompanying the post; like a parrot, he merely repeats the assertion that Russia's actions violated Ukraine's absolute right to "innocent passage", while ignoring or discounting the abundant evidence that Ukraine has explicitly affirmed that its intentions and actions were anything but innocent.

Some long-time readers are deploring Murray's analysis as further evidence of his settled dislike of Russia. He's certainly not part of the mass-media Russophobia generator, but his attempt to cast the Russian response to the incursion as heavy-handed, and illegal to boot, reads like a typical Russophobic hit piece.

Posted by: Ort | Nov 29 2018 18:59 utc | 104

@103 BM and @104 ort..

i agree with you both... i shared the post before reading it all.. afterwards, i read the posters comments as well.. it is too bad murray has as ort sayg 'this willful myopia' on some posts, but i like how you have caught that insight ort - he sometimes qualifies his posts, saying posters might not like that".. that is a good observation, as i have seen him do that before as well when he knows he is skating on thin ice..

as BM notes and to which i agree.. russia responded in a very gentle manner compared to how they could have, or how some countries in the west probably would have...

Posted by: james | Nov 29 2018 19:04 utc | 105

I think Poroshenko succeeded.
Trump canceled his meeting with Putin.
Neocons win again.

Posted by: mauisurfer | Nov 29 2018 23:13 utc | 106

John Helmer's insights on the Kerch incident:
Russia seeks to prevent new Ukraine naval base in Sea of Azov.

Usa/nato seem not to comprehend that Putin is the softspoken compromiser of Russia,

& that Russia military (under shoigu) + FSB are far more hard nose.

> Lavrov also emphasized the hostile intention of the Ukrainian government. “When Ukrainian officials directly, openly, and publicly called to blow up the Crimean Bridge, for some reason I did not hear Brussels urging them to restrain their representatives and stop calling for terrorist acts…”

> As the Ukrainian vessels moved towards the Crimea Bridge across the Kerch Strait, Ukrainian officers on board two of the vessels were recorded as arguing between themselves whether they should proceed into the Sea of Azov without Russian permission. When they continued on course, the Russian Border Service reports more than twelve hours of warnings – from 0720 to 2055 – during which time Ukrainian ship commanders decided to run the gauntlet of the Russian escorts, breaking out of contact and their gun range. The first Russian warning shots were fired at 2045; when they were ignored, lethally targeted shots were fired ten minutes later. The Ukrainians surrendered and were boarded by the Russians by 2115. The three vessels and crews were then disarmed and escorted to Kerch port.
> According [11] to the FSB chronology, after ignoring Russian radio warnings to stop, the Berdyansk and U176 Nikopol had raised their main gun barrels to 45 degrees and swivelled to point them at the Russian interception vessels.

Posted by: mauisurfer | Nov 29 2018 23:25 utc | 107

In my opinion Russia ought to issue specific threats of force against the perpetrators of any such attempt in advance, to make it clear to the US Britain France and Israel...
Posted by: BM | Nov 29, 2018 11:12:15 AM | 102

That threat was issued more than a year ago and specifically mentioned targeting launch sites if Syria is attacked. It hasn't been withdrawn so presumably Putin is extending the Judeo-Christians the courtesy of deciding for themselves when they're ready to be publicly embarrassed.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 30 2018 5:13 utc | 108

I think Poroshenko succeeded.
Trump canceled his meeting with Putin.
Neocons win again.
Posted by: mauisurfer | Nov 29, 2018 6:13:55 PM | 106

The time Trump will save by not meeting with Putin won't be wasted.
He's going to spend it with Zio-lunatic & Oz's Palace Coup PM, Scott Morrison. If Trump's hair stands on end after coming into contact with ScoMo, no-one in Oz will be surprised.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 30 2018 8:11 utc | 109

More on the willing lunatics whose paycheck depends on presstituting:

A repost from ZeroHedge:

"Adrian Karatnycky, one of the original founders and Co-Director of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in the United States and director of its Ukraine-North America Dialogue. From 1993 until 2003, he was President of Freedom House, during which time he developed programs of assistance to democratic and human rights movements in Belarus, Serbia, Russia, and Ukraine, and devised a range of long-term comparative analytic surveys of democracy and political reform. For twelve years he directed the benchmark survey Freedom in the World and was co-editor of the annual Nations in Transit study of reform in the post-Communist world. ...




Jews are under 1% of the Ukrainian population, yet their role as oligarchs, politicians, and media owners is such you'd imagine them half the population.

While there are plenty of war profiteers and Cold Warriors who aren't Jewish driving antagonism against Russia, the Jewish role, in think tanks, media, and governments - *internationally* is absolutely breath-taking, and yet virtually undiscussed."

A little cherry on a top of the (...): "Volodymyr Borysovych Groysman,[Yiddish: וואָלאָדימיר באָריסאָוויטש גרויסמאַן‎) is a Ukrainian politician of Jewish descent who has been the Prime Minister of Ukraine since 14 April 2016."

The context:

"Today’s Ukrainian Nazis are first of all pro-Nato and anti-Russian. On 14 October 2017, those Ukrainian political parties with a nostalgia for Nazism, organized a torch lit march in Kiev..."

"In one of the largest, if not the largest, Neo-Nazi demonstration in Europe since WW2, 20,000 fascists and their supporters marched through the streets of the Ukrainian capital celebrating the birth of Stepan Bandera, founder and leader of the ultra-nationalist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B) and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) commanded by Roman Shukhevych. This organization and the 14th Waffen SS Grenadier Division Galicia 1, were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Poles, Jews and Russians during the ethnic cleansing which began in Lviv with a pogrom of the city’s Jews a week after the German invasion in 1941, and in the western Ukraine between 1943-45."

The Jewish State role in supporting the Nazi revival in Ukraine: "Israel Is Arming Ukraine's Blatantly Neo-Nazi Militia the Azov Battalion"

Posted by: Anya | Nov 30 2018 15:21 utc | 110

relevant - IMF and Ukrainian Authorities Reach Staff Level Agreement on a New Stand-By Arrangement
link here...

Posted by: james | Nov 30 2018 20:04 utc | 111

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 30, 2018 3:11:34 AM | 109
(Trump to meet ScoMo @ G20 instead of Putin)

Well, Trump has now spoken with ScoMo and ScoMo has prevaricated and bullshitted to Trump - same modus operandi as he employs with the Oz Sheeple.
Trump's not as stupid or detached from reality as his detractors claim. Everyone in Oz wants to know why Turnbull was given the boot. And 3 months on, we're no closer to finding out. Trump is OBVIOUSLY aware of this and (magnanimously) asked ScoMo a question on behalf of Oz citizenry. The question was "What happened to Turnbull?"
ScoMo, as usual, failed to provide a coherent answer.
However, at a later press conference, when asked what he told Trump, he pulled another glib porkie out of his ass and replied "I've given him a full explanation."

Given that Trump still doesn't know why Turnbull was dumped, I'm hoping he'll be curious enough to ask CIA/Mossad and leak the answer to Oz as an denied rumour.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 1 2018 14:58 utc | 112

Iulia Timoshenko has previously been Russophobic. Let's hope she (a) wins the election, and (b) realizes that the reversal of the coup, becoming friends with Russia, and allowing Russian as an official language, is the way to make Ukraine great. Can't say "again", but with those steps and cracking down on corruption, the wheat fields flourishing, the industrial areas peaceful, Iulia could become a legendary heroine.

Posted by: Miggle | Dec 2 2018 7:26 utc | 113

Miggle, be sceptical when you talking about "russophobe Timoshenko".

Will you equally talk about "russophobe Marine Le Pen" ?

Don't you remember how Timoshenko was coming to Moscow in 2009 to get funding for her election campain?
And then as soon as USA installed their Yanukovich into presidency (good job, Manafort) they immediately broke "customs of trade" and jailed Timoshenko for trying to work with Kremlin.

Posted by: Arioch | Dec 3 2018 2:11 utc | 114

Posted by: Slope Game | Dec 15 2018 12:59 utc | 115

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