Putin’s Ukrainian Port at Sevastopol Is the Heart of Russia’s Activity in the Eastern Mediterranean – Amatzia Baram
Russia maintains an enormous military port in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, home of Russia’s mighty Black Sea Fleet. All Russian activity in the eastern Mediterranean is currently dependent upon the Sevastopol port. However, it is through the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia that Russia is transferring increasingly large arms shipments to Assad’s army and safeguarding its interests in Damascus.
With America’s recent wariness of Egypt, contacts are being pursued between Moscow and Cairo for a $2 billion arms deal that would be financed by Saudi Arabia. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Sevastopol port is indirectly the key to Syria and perhaps to Egypt and the entire Mediterranean in the future.
If Ukraine degenerates into chaos, Russia’s naval base in Sevastopol will be in danger. If that happens, Putin may have an interest in seeing Ukraine split, for he will have no choice but to seize control of Sevastopol and the surrounding area, or even of Eastern Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula where it is situated.Professor Baram teaches Middle East history at Haifa University.(Ha’aretz)