Harsh increases in the personnel of the Russian armed forces in the peninsula, redeployment of the materiel, start of the military exercises are nothing but the evidences in favor of the second presumption.
In the course of the 2 years’ time span following the annexation of Crimea, the actions of the Russian officials attest that Russia is currently gathering a large multiservice armed unit. Military authorities have already reported that there are 96 military units and organizations raised in the territory of the Peninsula. By 2020 Russian Black Sea Fleet military capability would have achieve that of the Soviet one which is actually approved by the declaration of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation Sergei Shoigu concerning reinforcement of the Russian troops in Crimea.
The battleships which dislocations in the peninsula were until now forbidden by international agreements have been transported to Crimea. These are the state-of-the-art submarines and ships armed with cruise missiles capable of hitting any target within European continent. Following samples of the advanced armament and materiel have been recently adopted by the local military units: “Bastion” and “Bal” coastal missile system, “Pantsyr” and S-300 air defense missile systems. The number of the aircrafts has also dramatically increased reinforced by Su-30SM combat aircrafts, helicopters Mi-28, Ka-52, Ka-29. Russian Navy has drones at its disposal as well. One more revealing aspect is that the overall manpower strength of the Russian Armed forces has grown by two times since the moment of occupation – from 11 to 23 thousand military men. By 2018 the manpower strength of the Russian armed forces will have be raised by 40 thousand people.
According to the statement of the plenipotentiary representative of the President of the Russian Federation Oleg Belaventsev made in the so-called “Crimean federal region” within two years since 2015 three ships and four submarines have joined the Black Sea Fleet: “Admiral Grigorovich” patrol ship, little guided-missile ships “Serpukhov” and “Zelenyi Dol” and four project 636 submarines “Novorossiisk”, “Rostov-na-Donu”, “Staryi Oskol” and “Krasnodar”. Moreover, ten battle vessels, 4 service vessels and combat helicopters have reinforced the local fleet. Russian Navy command is planning to restore ground test and training facility of the naval aviation.
Stipulated goals of the stationing of the Russian troops in Crimea have also changed significantly. They altered from defensive posture to the offensive one on the sea and in the coastal line. This was approved by the sudden integrated operational readiness test of the southern military district, Black Sea Fleet military units and ships stationed in the peninsula undertaken in February this year. In the course of the test new missiles, ships and submarines were tested.
Annexation of the peninsula and focus on its militarization has opened new prospects for Russia in terms of consolidation of its military-industrial complex and expansion of its facilities. This is corroborated by the information on the procurement plans for the next 5 years testifying that 7 Ukrainian military-industrial enterprises located in the Crimean peninsula entered on the list of the Russian register and have already obtained government orders. Among these enterprises are “Fiolent” factory and “Zaliv” research institute of the aeroelastic phenomena.
Enhanced attention of the Russian authorities towards restoration of the military infrastructure in Crimea attests the existence of the plans to exploit the peninsula in order to put into practice strategic interests in the military field. Within the last two months Crimea has been visited by the President of the state, Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev and Ministry of the Defense Sergei Shoigu. This is another approval that Russia will go on building up its military presence in Crimea seeking to turn the peninsula into a powerful and multifaceted military naval base of the strategic scale.
The declarations of the Russian authorities to deploy nuclear offensive weapons in the occupied Peninsula within the framework of confrontation with the US and NATO looks alarming. In particular Russia does not exclude the possibility to deploy in the occupied peninsula medium-range missiles, strategic and tactical aviation nuclear warheads as well as ship-launched nuclear missiles.
By its actions in Crimea and its plans to deploy the nuclear weapons there Russia both cynically violates the sovereignty of the independent state and ignores international agreements and treaties to which it is a signatory. Notably these are Russia-Ukrainian national boundary Treaty of 1993, Friendship, cooperation and partnership treaty between Ukraine and Russia of 1997, and among the most important ones are Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the USSR in 1987 and Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (also known as Budapest Memorandum of 1994). It is widely known that the international community sharply denounced the annexation of Crimea and it is now considered as a temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine, therefore deployment of the nuclear weapons, use of the nuclear materials and nuclear facilities in military aims constitutes a severe breach of the non-nuclear status of Ukraine.
Militarization of Russia-occupied Crimea is a serious threat for the security of the Black Sea basin states primarily for Turkey regarding its strained relation with Russia.
For that reason the relation of the international high-ranking officials, who has lately focused all their attention on the Minsk Agreements, towards Crimean issue seems to be even more surprising. Certain Western politicians even declare that in case of the implementation of the above-mentioned agreements the sanction currently imposed on Russia may be reconsidered. Apparently they are completely forgetting the Crimean problem. But the way the Russians annexed Crimea as well as all their subsequent actions on the peninsula constitute much more large-scale problem with absolutely unpredictable outcome for the Black Sea basin states as well as for the whole world.
Turning the blind eye to the occupation of Crimea by loosening the sanction pressure on Russia is at the very least unreasonable and may appear to be very dangerous. As by this notorious annexation the whole post-war European structure was broken, the world order destabilized and a new clash of civilizations was initiated marked by the armed conflict in the eastern Ukraine.