News editor in Ukraine hears Russians threaten attack tomorrow morning

While the Russians are now denying it, there are numerous reports on the ground in Ukraine that a Russian naval commander threatened, via loudspeaker, to attack the Ukrainian fleet at 5am tomorrow, essentially declaring open war on Ukraine.

Christopher Miller, the editor of the Kyiv Post, the leading English-language paper in Kiev – someone the respected experts on the region recommend people follow for accurate on-the-ground updates on the tense situation in Crimea – reports that he heard the threat with his own ears.

Miller reports two things.  First, that his sources heard the Russian Black Sea Fleet commander warn Ukrainian forces to defect and join Russia, or the Russian ship would basically destroy the Ukrainian Navy.

“If they don’t give up by 5 a.m. tomorrow, there will be a storm on UA military forces all over Crimea,” Miller’s source reports the Russian fleet commander as saying.

The Russians have turned around and denied making the ultimatum.

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The problem for the Russians is that Miller heard a similar threat, via loudspeaker from the Russian ship, with his own ears.

I asked Miller about this via Twitter. Here is his response:

russian-threaten-ukraine-ship

Miller confirmed to someone else that in fact he heard the threat himself:

ukraine-russia-threat

At this point, we should stop trusting what the Russians say, and start believing our own eyes.  As another story had reported (I can’t recall which now), the Ukrainians played this smart, refusing to use violence first, which has put the Russians in a bit of a pickle.  The Russians were likely hoping for violence from the other side, which would then “provoke” them to respond violently and take over Crimea entirely, or even eastern Ukraine.

I’m almost wondering if Ukrainian civilians shouldn’t swarm the ships, swarm state facilities, and let the Russians bluster all they want.  In essence, volunteer to become human shields.

It’s one thing for the world to let Russia steal some territory and blow up some ships. It’s quite another to let Russia murder thousands of innocent Ukrainian civilians, while thousands of smartphones stream the carnage live to the world.  That is something Russia, and the west, could never walk away from. It’s a terribly risky gamble, but isn’t all of this.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Bill_Perdue

    My point was about a murderous American warmonger.

    I have no idea what your point is unless it’s defend the decisions of warmongers like the Clintons, the Bushes and Obama to either invade,commit mass infanticide or to occupy Iraq.

  • Badgerite

    Saddam Hussein was a lot LESS non existent than the people of the Ukraine.
    He was absolutely a present threat to the Marsh Arabs, whom he was in the process of annihilating, along with the marshes, and the Kurds in north, who he was chafing at the bit to annihilate and to the Shiites in the south. Russian citizens of the Ukraine have experienced no threats or violence.
    Last time I checked, no Ukrainian used chemical weapons on anyone, let alone any Russian. The closest to the happening in the Ukraine was when the Russians tried to poison Viktor Yushchenko, in the 2004 Ukrainian elections because he was western leaning and reformist. He lived but was permanently disfigured. Last time I checked, no Ukrainian had sought nuclear or chemical weaponry. This is about economics and the Russians wanting to control a region where the people living there might not be quite as subservient to their interests as they would like. Who do we think we are kidding here? The Russians want to make sure they hold onto their warm water seaport in the Crimea and they are not willing to ‘make arrangements’ with a Ukrainian government to do so when they can just take it.
    And they want to make sure that the Ukrainian people appreciate that they can squash them militarily, if they hadn’t been aware of that to this point.

  • 2karmanot

    Not to worry, President Obozo will send fancy speech drones and save the day.

  • Anonymous

    It’s mostly pro-Russians that are violent; they’re paid shills that are now attempting to represent Ukrainians as a whole and subvert the protests. This tactic has effectively fooled the right-wing, “follow the leader” media. I checked the Daily Mail and most commenters believe that the Ukraine is now backed by neo-Nazis. Not a critical thought among them.

  • Anonymous

    No how could it ever be the pro-Russians? After all, the Kharkiv incident was covered up by Russian media yesterday. And by FOX News…

  • wearing out my F key

    That’s possible, but isn’t very likely I would think. The Russians have Crimea locked down, and a majority of the people in the east seem pretty satisfied about that. By the time the Crimea parlement radifies secession, the rest of Ukraine will be undergoing pretty severe austerity, since the rest of the country is bankrupt. Remember, this whole thing is a financial crisis, not a humanitarian crisis. The Russians aren’t afraid of the Ukraine army, and nobody else really wants a piece of them either. They certainly don’t need to sink any battleships to win this game.

  • RepubAnon

    The Russians are trying to trigger some Ukrainian response that can be characterized as “scary” – thus allowing the Russians to “stand their ground” and defend themselves. Hopefully, the Ukrainians don’t play loud rap music or throw popcorn at the Russians…

  • wearing out my F key

    On the other hand, civilians DID storm government buildings! But it was pro Russian Crimeans doing the charging.. And the taking.

    http://rt.com/news/donetsk-kharkov-ukraine-protest-365/

    Also, the EU may not be 100% on the whole ‘punish Russia’ idea…

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/03/ukraine-crisis-us-europe-putin-crimea

  • wearing out my F key

    It’s 5 a.m. in Kiev. And nothing has happened to the Ukrainian navy.

  • Indigo

    Not much to say, it looks more and more like one of those 19th century set pieces of military advance and settlement. Many will die, more will knuckle under, the impression of tranquility will endure for five years or so and then there’ll be another socio-quake and another settlement, possibly by force. All we need to do for that to happen is to do nothing. Post-militarist Slacker Politics, if you will.

  • 4th Turning

    I will rest a little easier tonight seeing Anderson on the scene!

  • kevinbgoode

    Wouldn’t things be so much easier if someone just bought Putin an XBox and let him play Call of Duty all day?

  • emjayay

    Have to admit I just laughed out loud at the blow behind a Denny’s line. Nice one.

    I haven’t seen the wingnut Putin worship, but it makes sense in terms of the authoritarian mindset. You know, like Lakoff and others talk about.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Lots of people use non existent threats – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkS9y5t0tR0

  • Anonymous

    The only people that don’t get this are easily duped and not good at critical thinking.

  • Badgerite

    If a cold war reignites, it will be because Putin has convinced Russia that they need one to regain their old sense of power and empire. It won’t be because the west made them do it. It will be their choice. Pure and simple. When Josh Marshall calls them a pseudo democracy, he hits the nail on the head.
    Saddam had elections too. That didn’t make Iraq a democracy by any stretch of the imagination.
    When you pass laws which slowly erode any other centers of power, public or private, than centralized ones under the control of a few, when free speech and free press is outlawed, it is no longer a real democracy.
    This Russian model of pseudo democracy is what Russia tried to inflict on the Ukraine. That is the root of the conflict.
    As to protecting Russians from a non existent threat, Hitler used that excuse too, to invade Czechoslovakia.

  • Anonymous

    They covered this up with the Crimea incident. “Hey, we’re just defending a territory that we rightfully own.” Suure… But some news outlets actually acknowledge the incidents in Kharkiv.

  • FLL

    John and Americablog readers,

    Do you think I’m exaggerating when I talk about the possibility of the mass murder of Ukrainians on the part of either the Russian military or their paramilitary proxies? Please, please watch this video of pro-Kremlin mobs storming the government buildings in the eastern city of Kharkiv, dragging the government workers out and beating them bloody. What crime have these government workers committed for which they are being beaten by the mob? Simply working for the new government in Kiev. I’m begging you. Please, please watch the video below, filmed yesterday in Kharkiv. The world needs to prevent the possibility of the mass murder of Ukrainians and stop this madness now. We have Bosnia in the 1990s as a precedent. No excuses this time around.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdEhWgqTCYU

  • Anonymous

    I fear that number will go up…Ukrainians are willing to fight for their country despite being outnumbered by Russians. It’s what a true patriot would do.

  • FLL

    I think Turkey would only consider it if the civilian population of a fellow NATO member were being attacked and there were a real danger of significant civilian deaths. That scenario would not be a possibility unless Ukraine joined NATO, but I think recent events provide a solid argument for Ukraine’s membership in NATO.

  • Drew2u

    At least we have one radioactive warship to send over there; Reagan Smash!

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. I read the Daily Mail to see their mob-style support of these guys. The main praise is that he’s a “real man.” They don’t need any valid arguments, just need to feel like he’s a leader. No wonder Putin and Bushie were friends – both “real men” that act before they think to look like “leaders.”

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Wingnut warmongers on the right have never met a despotic strongman they didn’t want to blow behind a Denny’s. They don’t even know what they’re supporting, they just like the idea of a guy with an army at his command threatening people. They don’t care what he’s done, or what he’s capable of.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    According to the terms and practice of the Montreaux Convention, Turkey does have the right to close off the Straits at its discretion, but I just don’t see them doing it unless they are directly threatened. NATO would have to do some serious convincing, because Russia would take it as no less than an act of war.

  • Anonymous

    Secession would be an answer, but I don’t think it will be that simple unfortunately. For one thing, the 2 ethnicities are not geographically split down the middle. There would have to be major changes to accommodate both sides.

  • Anonymous

    They are already priming for genocide, with the support of wingnuts here. Apparently Ukrainians have no right to their country because Russians are being “oppressed” there now. At least that’s what the nationalist nuts are claiming. So now they are going to use this as an excuse to murder and silence Ukrainians. Reminds me of Christians who feel “oppressed” by other religions. Fascists essentially.
    Still not really sure how Russia “owns” sovereign countries – I thought the USSR disbanded? Are Russians living in Ukraine not immigrants at this point?

  • Anonymous

    I think we gave Ukrainians the impression that we can actually help them. That was a mistake. Apart from empty threats I don’t see much US involvement unless Putin turns into Hitler and we go into WW3. The army in the US and allied countries have downsized.

    What I find disturbing though is that wingnuts support Putin. I wonder if they will be eating their words when they see what he’s capable of. There’s all this whining about how the US is too imperialistic, yet Putin is trying to annex other Slavic countries in Soviet fashion. The comparisons to America are ridiculous. I don’t agree with our wars, but at the very least we aren’t trying to annex our neighbors, and we don’t claim to “own” other countries. That would be like sending troops into Canada because some Americans live there. He’s punching above his weight, just an arrogant fool.

    This will not stop at Crimea.

  • FLL

    Never forget.

  • Anonymous

    So true :/

  • Anonymous

    Insiders have claimed for the past 2 years that Putin is going crazy. I really would not be surprised if he has to be taken down…by someone. I wonder if Soviet boy will really give up on his empire. The right wingers supporting him are naive and will learn the hard way, as always.

  • pliny

    While I agree with you, the Ukrainian government is doing everything short of getting on it’s knees and begging for help. I’m not sure “Sorry, but we’re in the penalty box right now” is an answer either.

    The powerful in Russia aren’t going to be impressed by sanctions, they’ll get around them the same way the Kim dynasty has in North Korea. The only people who’ll notice are their accountants in London and Cyprus.

    If Putin really wants to run the cold war play book, we should give him what he wants and offer a seat in NATO to Ukraine.

  • mereside

    The USA needs to keep its nose out of other peoples business, everywhere.

  • Silver_Witch

    President Kennedy’s time were different – however, if there are Russian ships in Cuba as alleged – then we should at least begin to move in that direction.

  • FLL

    Russia has annexed Crimea by force because they regard Crimea as the “must-have” warm-water base for their naval fleet as well as an ethnic Russian majority, and the international community will most likely recognize that. The Russians, therefore, have a practical argument on their side concerning the Crimea. They do not have a moral argument because:
    (1) The only reason there is an ethnic Russian majority today is because, during the late 1940s, Stalin murdered half of the Crimean Tatar majority in the course of exiling the entire Tatar population to distant parts of the Soviet Union.
    (2) Putin unilaterally invaded Crimea.

    Combined with the legacy of the Holomodor, in which at least 4 million Ukrainians were mass murdered by Stalin during the 1930s, Ukraine has an irrefutable argument for NATO membership. Preliminary talks about Ukraine’s candidacy for NATO membership did, in fact, start in 2008. Those plans were shelved in 2010 after Yankovych’s election victory. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind, least of all Putin’s, that Ukraine will join NATO. Putin is apparently making sure that Russia retains control of Crimea.

    I think any proposed Bosnia-style campaign of mass murdering Ukrainians in the eastern cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk, either by the Russian military or paramilitary proxies, would be insanity on Putin’s part. All NATO has to do is ask Turkey to close off the Bosporus Straights, and Russia’s naval fleet would be useless. I’m sure the Turkish government already disapproves of the plight of their ethnic Muslim Tatar brethren in Crimea.

  • http://liberawheeler.blogspot.com Elijah Shalis

    We need to act as President Kennedy did and deploy the 6th fleet and 82nd to cause a stalemate just as Kennedy did with the naval blockade of cuba.

  • Silver_Witch

    Trust no reporter. We should have learned from our previous war experiences that people lie in order to incite to reduce the threat. This is scary stuff…however, rushing into a situation is also very unwise.

  • Ninong

    Crimea’s population is predominately ethnic Russian now only because the Soviet Union relocated at least half of the native Muslim Tartars to Siberia. Putin doesn’t want a West-friendly Ukraine — potentially even a member of NATO and the European Union — as the landlord of his warm-water port. At the very least he wants a fully autonomous Crimea. His ideal would be to split Ukraine in half, with only the eastern half remaining Ukraine and the western and southern region becoming part of the Russian Federation.

    He might be able to achieve that goal by demanding a local referendum. The majority ethnic Russian part of Ukraine might very well vote for secession. This may be the end result if economic and political sanctions don’t work, and they probably won’t. Remember, gas flows from Russia to Ukraine and through Ukraine to Europe. Ukraine needs Russian gas but Putin needs to get Russian gas through Ukraine pipelines to Russia’s EU customers.

  • Drew2u

    Back to mass consumerism and throw-away pop-culture trends, of course! What do you expect, the American voting populace to care about anything they can’t purchase or ‘like’?

  • http://liberawheeler.blogspot.com Elijah Shalis

    They are not allowing the Ukrainian forces a face saving way out, that is my point.

  • http://liberawheeler.blogspot.com Elijah Shalis

    I don’t want to be killed in all out nuclear war over the night tonight. The fact that the Russians forces are demanding the Ukrainian navy and army in Crimea surrender or die instead of allowing them to even withdraw is disturbing.

  • Russ

    It’s really too bad that Bush was allowed to “…steal some territory and blow up some ships. It’s quite another to let Russia(USA) murder thousands of innocent Ukrainian(Iraqi, Afghan) civilians…”:We really have no moral high ground on this. If the US complains, we come off as laughingstocks, for our own “wars of aggression”. This violates international law? Well, I’m assuming that ordering “death by drones” probably does, too. Where do we go with this?

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