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Pence Urged Germany To Provoke Russian Navy

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Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

Bloomberg dropped a bombshell on Thursday, citing three high level sources familiar with US-German talks at last month’s Munich Security Conference who revealed US Vice President Mike Pence tried to persuade German Chancellor Angela Merkel to directly provoke Russia by sending German ships through the Kerch Strait, the two mile wide flashpoint off Crimea which saw Russia seize Ukrainian vessels and their crew members on November 25.

Merkel reportedly rebuffed the efforts which Bloomberg described as “a naval maneuver in Russia’s backyard aimed at provoking President Vladimir Putin.” Merkel declined Pence’s urging while citing reservations voiced by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who viewed such an act as “not enough” to ensure Russia opens the strait permanently, according to the sources. Sources said Pence’s plan was designed “to show Putin that Western powers won’t surrender their access to those waters.”

Pence Urged Germany To Provoke Russian Navy

Image source: Reuters

Interestingly, Merkel’s stance wasn’t based on any principled desire to promoted peace or prevent needless provocations which could potentially spark regional war between Ukraine and Russia and western allies, but out of concern it essentially “wasn’t enough”.

According to Bloomberg:

Merkel had indicated she was willing, in coordination with the French, to send a convoy through the waterway as a one-time maneuver but Poroshenko said that wasn’t enough to solve his problem — he wants to ensure the strait is open permanently, the people said. France also refused to take part, judging the idea as an unnecessary provocation, according to another official who declined to be identified.

Following the controversial 2014 Crimean status referendum, which resulted in the peninsula coming under Russian suzerainty, Russia has been accused of choking off Ukrainian naval access to its ports on the Sea of Azov to the north of the Kerch Strait.

When Ukrainian naval entry through the now disputed waterway came to a head in November of last year, the Russian navy fired on three Ukrainian vessels attempting to traverse the passageway before seizing the vessels and 24 Ukrainian sailors, which Moscow has refused to release, despite personal attempts by France’s Emmanuel Macron and other western leaders to intervene in the standoff.

Pence Urged Germany To Provoke Russian Navy

Mike Pence and Angela Merkel in Munich last month, via the AFP

Further, as Bloomberg notes, Russia completed a road bridge across the Kerch Strait in order to solidify Crimean links to the mainland and is reportedly in process of adding a rail link. Meanwhile, Kiev has attempted to rally international allies to mount a pressure campaign which would force Russia to open the strait to Ukrainian and other allied vessels.

But not only does this latest revelation of German and European reluctance to start a fight with Moscow over the strait reveal that Ukraine has a weak hand, a 2003 treaty between Russia and Ukraine deemed the Sea of Azov is an “internal” body of water, for which any outside military vessel must have the consent of both Moscow and Kiev to pass through.

Ukraine has recently said that the Russian seizure of Ukrainian vessels and crew violated the treaty’s terms, to which Moscow has said the Ukrainian vessels were aggressors against Russian ships in the first place.

Pence Urged Germany To Provoke Russian Navy

Over the past two months both UK and US military ships have entered the Black Sea to the south of the Kerch Strait, but no others have made a move further north since the Kerch Strait incident, which had the potential of bringing Russia and Ukraine into more direct conflict, with western allies backing Kiev.

“They, frankly, don’t like us in the Black Sea,” General Curtis Scaparrotti of the U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme Europe commander told the Senate Armed Services Committee while referencing Russia this week.

Scaparrotti further called for more deterrent firepower, specifically citing the “Russian threat” as something the United States remains underprepared for: “I am not comfortable yet with the deterrent posture that we have in Europe,” he said.

“While the US maintains a global military superiority over Russia, evolving Russian capabilities threaten to erode our competitive military advantage,” he explained.

Thus even by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s own admission, neither the US nor its European allies like Germany or France are ready to initiate a major confrontation with Moscow in its own backyard, as it appears Pence was ready and willing to do.

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  • Selbstdenker

    Based on the German history with Ukraine and Russia, sending navy ships through the Kerch street does not seem appropriate. One can visit Kerch and have a look at the graves of German soldiers there as a reminder, what the fruits of a war ware..

    • Harry Smith

      They can’t enter Azov sea without breaking the international law.

      The strait reveal that Ukraine has a weak hand, a 2003 treaty between Russia and Ukraine deemed the Sea of Azov is an “internal” body of water, for which any outside military vessel must have the consent of both Moscow and Kiev to pass through.

      • zman

        That might make a difference if the US/NATO gave a shit about international law…which they prove everyday that they don’t.

        • Harry Smith

          Formally, they always have a lawful excuse for their actions. Like interim president of Venezuela, I.E.

          • zman

            Lawful? Not likely. They are called on the vast majority of their acts because they are illegal. This is why the US and Israel are NOT signatories to the ICC. As with Guano, their declarations usually have zero basis in fact or law. It is merely their political assertion, which is only seen as viable by co-conspirators. This what Russia continues to call the US out on, but is ignored by the international community of conspirators.

  • grumpy_carpenter

    Say what you want about the Germans at least they are smart enough to learn from experience. If only American had half the common sense the Germans are showing.

    • Wolfgang Wolf

      common sense needs at least SOME brain…. so go and find it in the US…. mission impossible :)

  • Jesus

    “””Scaparrotti further called for more deterrent firepower, specifically citing the “Russian threat” as something the United States remains underprepared for: “I am not comfortable yet with the deterrent posture that we have in Europe,” he said.

    “While the US maintains a global military superiority over Russia, evolving Russian capabilities threaten to erode our competitive military advantage,” he explained.

  • zman

    Gotta admire the political dancing Merkle is doing. ‘We will, if the French will.’…knowing the French won’t. The total BS from Bloomberg about Russia opening the Kerch Strait, as if it is closed, is just normal underhanded propaganda journalism.

  • Carol Davidek-Waller

    Most civilized nations provide a safe, sheltered environment for their psychologically impaired. The US puts them into forced labor programs in the nation’s capitol and gives them titles like President, Vice President, Secretary of State and Senator where they humiliate themselves, become objects derision and hatred.
    If their handicaps weren’t putting us all at risk, it would just be a cruel joke.

  • Gh

    the yanks are begging for conflict and the opportunity to punish the Russians. The yanks and their vassal states who are sleep walking to this disastrous policy need to wake up or do they need a new World war or a new generation of politicians to prevent them from Self distruction should these policies continue

  • goingbrokes

    Trying to use European countries as a battering ram against Russia, good idea Pence. Let those Europeans get really entangled in our self-imposed conflict with Russia, and take the hammer blow if things go south. Sounds like a plan to me.

  • Rodger

    Thanks US but we in the EU rather just trade with Russia. Go do your provocations yourself. (And have your systems spoofed in the process.)