The search for Russia to a warm port turned out to be Crimea. They fought for it before. This was the scene of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” About 600 British cavalry rode against Sebastopol; contrary to the poet, not all of them perished.
The main harbor for the Russian fleet is there – with some farther west. Naturally, Vladimir Putin and Moscow reacted. Imagine Florida, California and Hawaii seceding. Crimea was wrested out of Ottoman hands in the 19th century by the tsarist empire. The single problem was that it was made of part of the Ukrainian republic. Kiev was the capitol. They speak a similar language.
But Kiev was the birthplace of all things Russian. It was separated, mainly, by Mongols. I tried to learn the language. There are many sounds Asiatic; my western tongue couldn’t get around them. I have no problem facing German, Italian and Arabic; the quandary is my lack of vocabulary.
Of course, Vladimir Putin is honor-bound not to give it up. He had no problem when Moscow was the seat of Soviet republics before they decided to split themselves. For some reason, Crimea was designated the southern part of Ukrainia. That’s when the impossible jigsaw started.
Ukrainians resemble nothing like Crimeans. The original republic was first adopted by Mother Russia. The peninsula stayed in the Ottoman Empire – with all that means: Muslim and darker complexions. Crimeans resemble nothing like Ukrainians.
All sorts of Americans and Westerners came to grief over President Putin mobilizing to secure the peninsula. They shouldn’t have bothered, as I explained earlier. This is a vital issue to Moscow. Can you picture the United States without a U.S. Navy? It’s that simple.
If you consider Ukraine alone, you miss the point. Mr. Putin has made no threatening noises – not that I’ve heard – if Kiev joins the West. Of course, he disagrees. But slipping out of Moscow’s influence seems preferable: There can be anything but positive out of separating Ukraine and Crimea.