Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 03.02.2018
Russia’s war against the West is accelerating. Russia is deploying more warplanes to territory it illegally occupies in Ukraine – Crimea – and territory it illegally occupies in Japan – the Northern Territories. Russia is using these aircraft to demean the sovereignty of Ukraine and Japan, and to threaten aviation and shipping in the Black Sea and in the North Pacific Ocean.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014. In the first months of the war, Russia seized Ukraine’s southern peninsula of Crimea. The Russians pirated Ukrainian naval vessels and stole military bases. One of the bases the Russians stole was Belbek, Crimea, Ukraine. Today, the 38th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Russian Aerospace Forces is illegally based at Belbek. On 29 January 2018, a Russian Su-27 made an extremely dangerous intercept of an unarmed American EP-3 Aries II intelligence gathering aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea. The Russian fighter jet made risky manoeuvres to as little as 1.5 metres separation and also directly in the American aircraft’s flightpath. U.S. Navy Captain Bill Ellis, the commander of Task Force 67, said: “For the Russian fighter aircraft to fly this close to the U.S. Navy aircraft, especially for extended periods of time, is unsafe. The smallest lapse of focus or error in airmanship by the intercepting aircrew can have disastrous consequences. There is no margin for error and insufficient time or space for our aircrews to take corrective action.” Russia violated a US-USSR agreement intended specifically to prevent dangerous behaviour, “On the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas,” signed in 1972.
The Black Sea would be a Russian lake, if Putin had his will. The Kremlin promised that every NATO ship and aircraft would be threatened by air power coming from illegally occupied Crimea. On 13 January 2018, Russia deployed a new division of S-400 surface-to-air missiles to illegally occupied Crimea. The escalation of Russian aggression is relentless, and is not being countered by NATO. Russia is decidedly not leaving Crimea and restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Russia invaded the Northern Territories of Japan on 18 August 1945. This was three days after Victory over Japan Day – three days after the unconditional surrender of Japan to the Allies. Because of Russia’s unjustified aggression, territory belonging to Japan was illegally seized, and claimed to have been annexed by the Stalin regime. The Northern Territories of Japan are asserted to be the Kuril Islands by Russia. There has been no peace between Russia and Japan for over 72 years because Russia refuses to release the Northern Territories of Japan from occupation.
The militarization of the illegally occupied Northern Territories of Japan by Russia has accelerated since Russia invaded Ukraine. On 2 February 2018, Russian prime minister Medvedev announced that Russia would be deploying warplanes to the island of Etorofu in Japan’s Northern Territories. Just like in Crimea, Russia has also deployed missiles to the Northern Territories. Plans have been announced to build a naval base there. Russia is determined to threaten the sea and air around the illegally occupied Northern Territories in the same way it threatens the Black Sea region from illegally occupied Crimea. The United States returned Okinawa to Japan’s sovereign control in 1971. Russia is decidedly not leaving the Northern Territories and restoring Japan’s territorial integrity.
Russia attacks every neighbouring country when it is weak. Russia attacked Ukraine after Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons under the Budapest Agreement on Security Assurances and immediately after the Revolution of Dignity. Russia attacked Japan after Japan had been defeated in the Second World War though the efforts and sacrifice of the United States primarily. Putin is an old sabotage and disruption agent from the KGB … it’s all he knows. The Russian war machine which he now commands will continue to exploit weakness and appeasement. The limit of Russian aggression is resistance – so far only the Ukrainians have shown that, in Donbas, where they have halted Russia’s invasion of Europe. Ukraine does not have the kind of air power to confront Russian aggression over the Black Sea, but NATO does. Japan does have defence forces capable of confronting Russian aggression from the illegally occupied Northern Territories. The civilized West must stand up to Muscovy barbarity, or it will perish.