The Great Poti Port Grab

So what's a nation like Russia to do, when historically, the desire for warm water ports is a critical necessity?  Czarist Russia recognized that as did the USSR.  The Crimea port of Sevastopol fulfilled that need, and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, so confident of the success of the communist state, presented the Crimea to Soviet Ukraine in1954.  When the USSR collapsed, an independent Ukraine kept the Crimea and the Sevastopol port.

Speculation can be made that the Russia government knew, sooner or later, a new home would have to be found for Black Sea Fleet.  The $93-million-a-year lease with the Ukraine for the use of the Sevastopol port facilities is up in 2017.  The Ukraine westward tilt only accelerated with Russia's invasion of Georgia and a membership in NATO is, no doubt, looking more attractive. 

Of course, in Russia, "Nationalist Russian politicians regularly suggest that Moscow should reclaim Sevastopol -- or even all of Crimea -- as its own territory, " and Ukraine does have a sizable ethic Russian population, close to 18%. 

Russia's conflict with Georgia over the separatist region of South Ossetia has prompted suggestions that pro-Russian nationalism in the Crimea, strong in the 1990s, could be rekindled and undermine the authority of the Ukrainian state.

But, the Ukraine does not believe it suffers the difficulties that Georgia had with its breakaway provinces.  

Valentin Nalivaichenko, acting chairman of Ukraine's SBU security service, said latent nationalism in Crimea could not be compared with South Ossetia's longstanding rebellion that ultimately led to the conflict between Georgia and Russia.

Militarily, Russia couldn't possibly succeed, unscathed, against Ukraine as it did against Georgia in a land grab.   Or in this case, a port grab:   

Russian troops on August 20 entered the Black Sea port city of Poti for the second day in a row, reportedly stationing columns of armed vehicles at the city's main entrance and in an outlying district.

The Georgian Ministry of the Interior states that Russian troops are "digging into" the port city, a strategic site and the location of a recent $200 million port development project. Although reports from the ground differ, Poti City Administration Chief Roin Gigiberia told EurasiaNet that Russian soldiers have started cutting potholes into the city's streets and have set up check points on a bridge leading into the town.

Well, as has been predicted by many, the Russians aren't going to leave, at least not the port city of Poti.  The port development project is a juice one:

The project consists of building and operating a new oil terminal in the Port of Poti (Georgia). This includes purchase and installation of oil tanks and handling equipment for the on-shore storage facility to be built in two phases and construction of infrastructure elements necessary to install the oil tanks and permit operations at the terminal as well as terminal connection to hinterland transport routes.

For Russia, Poti is a two for one land grab.  Black Sea access and brand new oil facilities. 

From the "liberation" of South Ossetia to the dissolution of the Georgia military and ending at the Port of Poti, Russia has shown the world how lucrative peacekeeping can be.
So what's a nation like Russia to do, when historically, the desire for warm water ports is a critical necessity?  Czarist Russia recognized that as did the USSR.  The Crimea port of Sevastopol fulfilled that need, and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, so confident of the success of the communist state, presented the Crimea to Soviet Ukraine in1954.  When the USSR collapsed, an independent Ukraine kept the Crimea and the Sevastopol port.

Speculation can be made that the Russia government knew, sooner or later, a new home would have to be found for Black Sea Fleet.  The $93-million-a-year lease with the Ukraine for the use of the Sevastopol port facilities is up in 2017.  The Ukraine westward tilt only accelerated with Russia's invasion of Georgia and a membership in NATO is, no doubt, looking more attractive. 

Of course, in Russia, "Nationalist Russian politicians regularly suggest that Moscow should reclaim Sevastopol -- or even all of Crimea -- as its own territory, " and Ukraine does have a sizable ethic Russian population, close to 18%. 

Russia's conflict with Georgia over the separatist region of South Ossetia has prompted suggestions that pro-Russian nationalism in the Crimea, strong in the 1990s, could be rekindled and undermine the authority of the Ukrainian state.

But, the Ukraine does not believe it suffers the difficulties that Georgia had with its breakaway provinces.  

Valentin Nalivaichenko, acting chairman of Ukraine's SBU security service, said latent nationalism in Crimea could not be compared with South Ossetia's longstanding rebellion that ultimately led to the conflict between Georgia and Russia.

Militarily, Russia couldn't possibly succeed, unscathed, against Ukraine as it did against Georgia in a land grab.   Or in this case, a port grab:   

Russian troops on August 20 entered the Black Sea port city of Poti for the second day in a row, reportedly stationing columns of armed vehicles at the city's main entrance and in an outlying district.

The Georgian Ministry of the Interior states that Russian troops are "digging into" the port city, a strategic site and the location of a recent $200 million port development project. Although reports from the ground differ, Poti City Administration Chief Roin Gigiberia told EurasiaNet that Russian soldiers have started cutting potholes into the city's streets and have set up check points on a bridge leading into the town.

Well, as has been predicted by many, the Russians aren't going to leave, at least not the port city of Poti.  The port development project is a juice one:

The project consists of building and operating a new oil terminal in the Port of Poti (Georgia). This includes purchase and installation of oil tanks and handling equipment for the on-shore storage facility to be built in two phases and construction of infrastructure elements necessary to install the oil tanks and permit operations at the terminal as well as terminal connection to hinterland transport routes.

For Russia, Poti is a two for one land grab.  Black Sea access and brand new oil facilities. 

From the "liberation" of South Ossetia to the dissolution of the Georgia military and ending at the Port of Poti, Russia has shown the world how lucrative peacekeeping can be.