In his annual phone-in dialogue with Russian citizens, televised live on October 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed extending the stationing of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine’s Crimea beyond the 2017 legal deadline. Moreover, Putin obliquely cast doubt on Ukrainian sovereignty and security in the Crimea and farther afield by purporting to offer Russian military guarantees to that sovereignty and security.[emphasis added - DT]
Putin was answering pre-arranged questions from nine locations in Russia plus Sevastopol in Ukraine. Dwelling at length on two questions from Sevastopol regarding Russia’s Black Sea Fleet based there, Putin replied (Interfax, October 25): “Russia…is ready to negotiate an extension of the timeframe of our Fleet’s presence there… I expect that we can resolve all these issues in a constructive dialogue on the governmental level, the ministerial level. Such negotiations are ongoing.” He also hinted at “difficult internal political processes” in the Crimea and alleged “Slavic”-Tatar tensions there.
Putin carefully couched his proposals in terms seemingly respectful of Ukraine’s sovereignty, though reminiscent of Soviet military assistance offers to then-“fraternal sovereign countries” at their “request.”
Well, it's getting more and more blatant with respect to the xUSSR repbulics what Putin thinks and what he plans. Ukraine is merely the latest example. I could easily see a situation where Putin - or his successor - could engineer a crises or three to fracture Ukraine. He could then develop a horrible misnamed 'frozen conflict' such that Eastern Ukraine and Crimea - possibly more of the Black Sea Coast - would end up having another vote like what was done recently in Transdniestria.
That Europe is merely twiddling its thumbs and looking the other way is disgusting. I had such high hopes for the EU to help Ukraine into membership, but its behavior since the Gas War has done little to acquit itself well.