Thursday, October 9, 2008

There is only one thing Russians understand: the language of power

An excerpt from an article from Der Spiegel:

Language of Power

"And," Miroslav Mamchak asks, smiling, "what was the outcome of that war? Russia lost, and Sevastopol fell. All enemies that have ever come here have captured the city - that is the bitter truth about this city of heroes."

A retired sea captain in the Black Sea fleet, Mamchak was one of the first to swear an oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian flag, in 1992. Today he is one of the few who fearlessly expresses something that ought to be legally indisputable: that the port city is an inalienable part of Ukrainian territory and that the presence of the Russian fleet is contractually limited until 2017.

Mamchak, who is also the chairman of the "Ukrainian Society" and general manager of "Briz," a military radio station, has come under heavy fire from Russians in the city. He is caricatured on posters as an SS officer and fascist with a Hitler moustache, and, as he says, the words "Get out of Sevastopol" were scrawled onto the walls of his house. Mamchak insists that he will not be forced to his knees by "criminals" and "mentally ill" warmongers.

The sorely afflicted city of heroes, says Mamchak, urgently needs a civilian concept for the future. "We currently have 100 meters (328 feet) of quay for warships, but only 90 meters (295 feet) for cruise ships. That has to change," he says. Mamchak's vision of a Sevastopol of the future includes tourists instead of torpedoes in the city's harbors, and "Ukrainian culture" instead of post-Soviet hero worship.

And how is this to be achieved against Moscow's wishes? Quite simply, says Mamchak: "Ukraine desperately needs to become part of NATO. Or re-obtain nuclear weapons. There is only one thing Russians understand: the language of power."
Monday, October 06, 2008

Russia And Ukraine Jockey In The Black Sea

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