Why the history of Crimea is so important in conflict between Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey

Americans ask, “What difference does old history make? Russians live in Crimea, so it should be theirs.” But it means a great deal in there.  Some history for perspective: 7-6th BC, Greeks colonized it; 10th century AD Kiev took it over; Ottomans took it over and held it 15th-18th century; 1774 Catherine the Great of Russia took it from the Ottoman’s; Stalin took it for the USSR; and it became part of Ukraine in the early 90’s and later taken back by Russia. With all that, who should have it now?


uh brad johnson here for americans for
00:02
intelligence form intel reform.org
00:05
it is march 4th 2021. uh we’ve been
00:08
covering a lot of the events going on in
00:10
crimea and i just wanted to
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kind of go back and touch on how how we
00:14
find ourselves where we find ourselves
00:16
today there’s been a lot of
00:18
comments saying oh you know the russian
00:19
people there
00:21
russian-speaking people there how it
00:22
makes perfect sense they’ve been there
00:24
all along
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uh that you know this there was a vote
00:28
and all these sorts of things
00:29
i i you know those things are sort of
00:32
like
00:32
there are elements of truth in it but it
00:35
doesn’t present the situation the way it
00:37
really is so i need to
00:39
to go back it’s one of the things that
00:41
here in the west we just don’t do
00:43
the way that we should because it
00:44
provides the perspective
00:46
that they have versus us i mean here in
00:49
the united states
00:50
and canada i would say both of us in
00:52
particular less in europe
00:54
but we look at these things and go well
00:55
you know who cares what happened 300
00:57
years ago or a thousand years ago
00:59
because we don’t we didn’t have we don’t
01:01
have that history
01:02
so we just don’t care and we very
01:05
naively
01:06
look at the rest of the world and say
01:08
you know why do you care about what
01:10
happened 500 years ago or a thousand
01:11
years ago
01:12
they do care and uh i would even say
01:15
this is one of my
01:16
great criticisms of the intelligence
01:20
community today
01:21
in the united states i mean it’s the
01:23
height of really
01:24
ignorance and naivete uh in dealing with
01:28
these foreign services that we talked to
01:30
and just say well uh you know hey sign
01:32
the peace treaty why do you care what
01:33
happened 300 years ago let’s not look
01:35
back let’s look forward
01:36
i mean that the the the ignorance
01:38
involved with that kind of declaration
01:40
to a
01:41
foreign country they look at us and
01:42
think we’re stupid when we say things
01:45
like that and
01:45
and yet that’s the official position of
01:48
the united states of america
01:50
and the intelligence community the
01:51
naivete that has
01:53
taken over in intelligence is incredible
01:55
i i can’t i can’t even begin to stress
01:58
the need for
01:59
reform within the intelligence community
02:01
but back to the point of the crimea
02:04
uh and people need to understand kind of
02:06
where this came from to provide
02:08
this perspective that we need today that
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the crimea was
02:11
was originally i mean there were tribes
02:13
moving through there and had been
02:14
it is an area of the world that has been
02:16
fought over basically in every war
02:18
forever
02:19
but it was it was originally settled in
02:21
the in the seventh or sixth century
02:24
bc uh almost a thousand years before the
02:28
birth of christ
02:29
uh by greek colonies and those colonies
02:32
grew that area was settled
02:34
uh by greeks and in in
02:38
you know in a large sense it had just
02:40
been
02:41
smaller tribes moving through there and
02:44
settling in different places but
02:45
villages versus uh
02:47
a large-scale colonization settlement
02:51
and in the 10th century now it changed
02:53
hands
02:54
but the people that were there the
02:56
greeks stayed
02:58
and so they were the people that
02:59
occupied this land
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and so like i say it was fought over
03:02
changed hands and in the 10th century
03:05
the principality that was centered in
03:08
kiev
03:09
took over that so in the 900s through
03:12
the 12th
03:13
middle of the 1200s so for almost 300
03:16
years
03:17
this this was a a an area
03:20
uh you know under kev if you will which
03:24
is
03:24
uh you know the main city the biggest
03:26
city in ukraine today
03:28
and um uh it was only as as
03:32
in the 1200s they began losing portions
03:34
of this area to the ottoman empire
03:36
expansion
03:37
and it was finally taken over and
03:38
completely absorbed
03:40
from the the 15th to the 18th centuries
03:42
so there was a four or 500 year period
03:44
in there where they began attacking and
03:46
finally
03:46
conquered that area but the greek people
03:50
largely stayed now new players came onto
03:53
the scene and
03:54
and then if you look it up it’s the
03:56
tartars and if you look it up
03:58
uh there they’re uh
04:01
the information that’s out there is
04:02
fairly misleading as to who they are
04:04
they’re described as indigenous tribes
04:06
and all sorts of stuff that
04:08
like like suggesting that they were
04:10
already
04:11
there when the greeks settled in the 6th
04:13
and 7th century
04:15
bc in that area that’s all false i mean
04:17
none of that is true
04:18
they’re not an indigenous group when the
04:21
ottoman empire began expanding into that
04:23
area they would have conquered areas and
04:25
and what they would do there was
04:26
basically a class system so you were
04:29
turkish you were first-class citizens
04:32
you could become a second-class citizen
04:35
by converting to islam
04:38
and marrying within the faith and all of
04:40
that sort of thing
04:41
but those were local people that’s who
04:43
the tartars are
04:44
and if if you look one of some of the
04:46
things that are described
04:48
uh correctly about them are that it’s
04:50
this mixed bloodline of
04:52
you know the greek ukrainian all the
04:54
different bloodlines of the people that
04:55
had settled in the area
04:57
but it’s very important to understand
04:59
that that that bloodline
05:01
were the local people that essentially
05:04
converted to islam married into the
05:06
faith and then
05:07
began you know marrying and having
05:10
children
05:11
with turkish people so it’s a turkish
05:13
bloodline but mixed in with all this
05:15
other stuff
05:15
now for us we don’t care but uh for them
05:19
they do
05:19
because the local population view those
05:22
people
05:22
as essentially traitors because they
05:25
betrayed their religion because that was
05:27
a greek orthodox area
05:29
and they betrayed their religion
05:31
converted to this other religion and
05:32
began marrying in and having children
05:34
with these
05:35
enemies that had conquered them so while
05:38
we don’t look at this as a big deal
05:40
they do and and they still view the you
05:43
know there is a lot of resentment back
05:45
and forth
05:46
uh between these people and the tartars
05:48
are are no
05:49
you know boy scouts or anything in there
05:51
i mean they were heavily involved in
05:53
for hundreds of years in the slave trade
05:55
and
05:57
also even during world war ii they
05:59
fought with the nazis they joined the
06:00
nazis and
06:01
and you know they weren’t providing
06:03
soldiers to march off they were
06:05
they were involved with one of the nazi
06:07
extermination groups and what they did
06:09
was hunt down
06:09
jews and and exterminate jews so that
06:12
had been
06:13
a fairly large jewish population in that
06:15
area that had been settling
06:17
and those in world war ii the tartars
06:19
were the guys that hunted them down and
06:20
slaughtered them all
06:22
uh and so they’re i don’t think there
06:23
are any jews left in that area today
06:25
unless they’ve gone there recently so
06:27
i mean that’s kind of who that group is
06:28
so there are reasons why there’s a lot
06:31
of resentment towards them
06:33
in that area now uh that
06:36
so after the where where it changed in
06:39
1774
06:40
at mid uh or towards the end of the 18th
06:43
century
06:44
uh that the ottomans in that area were
06:46
defeated by catherine the great
06:48
and they annexed that area as as part of
06:51
russia
06:52
and that’s extraordinarily important
06:54
once again because that was the first
06:57
territorial loss that the ottoman empire
07:00
had had who’d been expanding for 500
07:02
years
07:02
and then controlled a lot of these areas
07:04
around them for for
07:05
centuries and it was the first loss
07:08
handed to them in negotiations that took
07:10
place last year
07:12
between turkish president erdogan
07:15
and russian president putin they placed
07:18
erdogan underneath the statue of
07:21
catherine the great on the wall
07:22
this was widely talked about but really
07:24
the importance isn’t wasn’t
07:26
stressed here in the united states
07:29
because like i said we don’t care about
07:30
all that stuff
07:31
it would mean nothing to us but it meant
07:33
everything to erdogan
07:35
and everything to putin the russians and
07:37
the turks understand exactly what was
07:39
going on
07:40
and turkey by the way is guilty of
07:42
precisely the same thing whenever they
07:43
have
07:44
visitors they’re paraded around in front
07:46
of all of these ottoman empire
07:48
guards you know in these uniforms of
07:51
days gone by and different turkish
07:53
heroes from the ottoman empire all of
07:55
the sultans that did great conquering of
07:57
the west
07:57
things like that where that just goes
07:59
over the head of most of the people in
08:00
the west certainly most americans
08:02
it does not go over their head for them
08:04
it’s deeply symbolic
08:06
and very important to them even though
08:08
it’s not to us
08:10
so uh that being annexed by raw shop now
08:14
scoot forward i know i’m oversimplifying
08:15
but i’m hitting the high important
08:17
points here
08:18
and and not you know stressing this
08:20
isn’t a history lesson
08:21
per se i just want to get to the point
08:23
of where we understand why we’re at
08:24
where we’re at today in crimea
08:26
so along comes in the early you know
08:28
1920s
08:31
the soviet union and eventually joseph
08:33
stalin takes over joseph stalin was a
08:36
you know cruel murderous thug uh the
08:38
number two
08:39
greatest murderer in the history of
08:40
mankind number one was chairman mao who
08:43
formed the communist party that’s in
08:45
charge in china today
08:47
his his fifth successor down the line is
08:49
still
08:50
head of the communist party in china
08:51
joseph stalin comes in as number two
08:54
greatest murder in history
08:55
and hitler who we all revile is only
08:57
number three
08:58
and yet you know there are people that
09:00
love joseph stalin and
09:02
and chairman mao which is beyond me how
09:05
any immoral
09:06
schmuck could could idolize those the
09:09
greatest murderers of history
09:11
uh at any rate so joseph stalin comes
09:13
online
09:14
and one of the things that he did was
09:17
began to deport
09:18
the tartars that lived in the area
09:20
because he
09:21
hated them because they sided with the
09:24
nazis so there was a great deal of
09:25
mistrust of them
09:26
so he deported a large number of them
09:28
out and they were
09:30
settled settled in central asia
09:34
and the same with the greeks many of the
09:36
greeks that had been there forever
09:38
uh you know back 2 000 years uh were
09:41
were finally taken out of that area so i
09:43
mean the greek
09:44
settlement of that area if anyone has an
09:46
original claim
09:47
it’s those greeks who got moved out only
09:50
when joseph stalin in you know in the
09:53
early 1900s took over the soviet union
09:56
and
09:56
and forced them out so that’s how
10:00
the the population began to change and
10:03
after following world war ii
10:06
that area um
10:10
well that’s why the demographic started
10:12
to change
10:14
and the actual
10:17
population that we see now of russians
10:20
uh
10:20
was uh really after the fall
10:23
of the soviet union well going up to
10:26
that time after in modern just before
10:28
the fall of the soviet
10:29
of the soviet union so in the 70s and
10:31
80s
10:32
that crimea was where the black sea
10:35
fleet was located for the ussr
10:37
and it was also where a lot of tourism
10:39
took place there were cruise ships that
10:41
went through there
10:42
a lot of industrial might something i
10:43
mentioned many times
10:45
there was a lot of jobs there because a
10:47
lot of industry and tourism
10:49
black sea fleet it’s the same thing here
10:51
where you have huge military bases
10:53
that’s
10:53
there’s good business around it because
10:55
it provides money into the system there
10:57
so
10:58
it was a great economic area it was only
11:00
then
11:01
from say call it the the the 60s
11:05
70s and 80s where you had the large
11:08
population of ukrainians and russians
11:10
settle
11:11
i mention it particularly because the
11:12
russians they were not
11:14
there in large numbers they were not a
11:16
dominant
11:17
part of the demographics of that area of
11:19
the crimea
11:21
prior to that time like i said
11:23
originally it was greek and both the
11:25
ukrainians and russians came in during
11:27
that period there were more ukrainians
11:30
but it ended up being largely russians
11:32
so
11:33
that didn’t take place until just
11:35
recently relatively recently
11:37
and so i mean that’s the background of
11:39
who is there
11:41
now when when the soviet union fell too
11:44
uh
11:45
in 1994 and there had been a lot of
11:47
negotiations in fighting because of the
11:49
black sea fleet
11:50
a deal was made eighty percent of that
11:52
fleet went to russia
11:54
and they had a 20-year lease on the port
11:57
and
11:57
that was signed by russia too in 1994
12:00
the uk
12:01
us and russia all signed this agreement
12:04
that crimea was part of ukraine now
12:08
on comes putin putin’s you know he’s a
12:10
strong man he wants to
12:12
to control this area and it’s something
12:14
i’ve said over and over and over
12:16
this is follow the money it’s power and
12:19
money those are the two things that
12:20
guide this
12:21
the black sea fleet uh needs warm water
12:25
ports that don’t aren’t under 10 feet of
12:27
ice and for six months out of the year
12:29
of winter and if all the rest of the
12:31
russian ports are usually
12:33
uh you know frozen solid and can’t be
12:35
used this
12:36
is a problem that russia has had since
12:39
the beginning of its history
12:40
so it’s extremely important to them to
12:43
have these warm water ports that they
12:45
can use
12:45
year-round so they can function during
12:48
winter that cannot
12:49
be underestimated as to the uh to the
12:53
power of that
12:54
from the russian perspective it is
12:56
strategically
12:57
very important also the money the just
13:00
the industrial might that’s there
13:02
so in 2014 basically a revolution was
13:05
staged there’d been back and forth there
13:07
were
13:07
there were problems in the area there
13:09
was a lot of you know ethnic
13:10
problems back and forth but in 2014
13:14
russian special forces unidentified
13:16
troops russian special forces came in
13:18
stormed the main buildings took over all
13:20
of the government offices
13:22
they staged a coup a month later this is
13:25
in february
13:25
late february 2014 so
13:29
a month later a month later how fast is
13:31
that to have an
13:33
essentially a national referendum 96
13:36
of the people voted to be
13:40
to leave uh ukraine even though they
13:43
previously all voted to be part of
13:45
ukraine
13:45
now 96 of the population voted to leave
13:49
ukraine
13:49
you know come on after they’ve been
13:51
stormed and taken over by russian
13:53
special forces
13:54
and and here i mean here’s the kicker uh
13:58
that vote the only international
14:02
observers to be there for the vote were
14:05
guess who
14:05
russia so you know they staged this
14:09
election
14:09
they’ve got their troops in there
14:11
controlling everything and
14:13
the international observers or russia
14:16
and
14:16
you know even the united nations which
14:18
is just you know
14:20
you know a bag of manure for getting
14:22
things done and being on the right side
14:23
of issues even the u.n
14:26
voted it was non-binding but they voted
14:28
and didn’t recognize that election as
14:30
being
14:30
a real election so you know it’s naive
14:33
to suggest
14:35
that there were these poor downtrodden
14:38
russian and russian-speaking ethnic
14:40
people there that were
14:41
uh you know just clamoring to get out of
14:44
ukraine because they were so badly
14:46
treated
14:46
all nonsense it’s power and money if
14:49
that black sea port were not necessary
14:52
to
14:53
strategic national security of russia
14:56
they would not have gone in if there was
14:58
not the economic
14:59
clout of that industrial area of the
15:01
crimea the russians would have not gone
15:03
in
15:04
and i can prove it because almost
15:07
exactly the same thing happened
15:09
in the transnister region of moldova
15:12
it there was indeed a russian ethnic
15:15
area there
15:16
and the same thing prior to this took
15:19
place
15:19
and russian troops came in they fought
15:22
the moldovans because they wanted to
15:24
declare themselves
15:26
as independent all this you can easily
15:28
look this up and google it it’s the
15:30
transnister region
15:31
look at the fighting that took place
15:32
between the transnister breakaway
15:34
and the moldovans however
15:37
while it was it had been an area of
15:40
industrial uh
15:42
might if you will a lot of industry in
15:44
that area that industry died out
15:46
because at the fall of the soviet union
15:48
the economy didn’t work the same way it
15:50
wasn’t
15:51
uh directed by the state where there had
15:54
been a lot of industry and transnational
15:55
most of that faded away
15:57
because it wasn’t economically feasible
15:59
so the russians did exactly the same
16:01
thing
16:02
staged it the same way fought over it
16:04
took it over
16:06
and let it be an independent state
16:08
because
16:09
there’s no strategic value to it and the
16:12
industrial might
16:13
shrank to be such a small thing they
16:15
just didn’t need it
16:16
so there is almost a very close parallel
16:20
as to what they did
16:21
but they didn’t finally take it over
16:23
because it lacked that strategic
16:25
importance and economic importance where
16:27
in uh crimea it does so they took it
16:29
over
16:29
so i mean it’s it’s clear that that’s
16:31
what happened to suggest this was some
16:34
sort of vote because of the ethnic
16:35
people
16:36
all of that is just nonsense this is
16:37
power and money nothing more
16:39
nothing less putin from his perspective
16:42
of national security
16:44
would be an idiot not to do this because
16:46
he needs that blacks
16:47
those black sea ports for the for this
16:50
navy that can operate
16:51
year round now part of what’s
16:55
you know still ongoing out of this is
16:57
you’ve got
16:58
turkey now jumping in remember this is
17:01
something they fought over back and
17:02
forth
17:03
for hundreds and hundreds of years and
17:06
so for
17:06
them this is very important turkey
17:09
because this area had been conquered by
17:11
the ottomans
17:12
views it as theirs they are using the
17:15
excuse
17:16
of the tartars that are still there
17:18
which are again muslim
17:20
essentially these turkish people mixed
17:22
with locals
17:23
and using that same excuse of this
17:26
ethnic background of people being down
17:28
and trodden
17:29
now and there may be some basis of truth
17:31
for that because
17:32
those groups are hated for those reasons
17:34
i mentioned
17:35
not hated by all it’s not necessarily
17:37
open warfare sort of thing
17:39
but they’re disliked by the local
17:41
population
17:42
because of that history they were cruel
17:44
conquerors and make no mistake
17:46
the ottoman empire where it was in
17:47
charge was very cruel
17:49
you know quick to cut off heads quick to
17:51
kill and whoever got in their way
17:53
and they demanded a tribute from the
17:56
conquered people they had to pay
17:57
if there’s any questions of the cruelty
17:59
i recommend anybody take a look
18:01
at the janissary program in these
18:05
villages where the people couldn’t pay
18:07
they would take the boy children away to
18:09
form the
18:11
to form the janissary population that
18:13
that were essentially the praetorian
18:15
guard of turkey
18:16
and in fact there’s a great book on it
18:20
of this area where a lot of this took
18:22
place it’s called bridge over the
18:24
uh drina fabulous book uh
18:28
won lots of awards and well worth
18:30
reading to give you the feel of this
18:32
history that i’m talking about in there
18:34
but now what the tartars are doing is
18:35
they’re demanding that these people that
18:36
were
18:37
deported under stalin be brought back
18:40
so that they can just wildly increase
18:42
that area because turkey
18:44
also wants power over that same area
18:48
for the same reasons that russia does
18:50
and they think that they have a claim on
18:52
it but like i said
18:53
if anyone if it’s if it’s who was there
18:55
first the most
18:57
the greeks have the greatest claim and
18:59
they’re they’re they’re quiet on this
19:00
issue
19:01
so you know after them certainly the
19:03
ukrainians who
19:04
you know in in the in the middle ages
19:07
ran all over this area and controlled it
19:09
for hundreds of years
19:10
uh where all of this stuff with the
19:12
russians being involved is all since
19:13
world war ii
19:14
so it’s it’s it’s not a simple thing to
19:17
suggest
19:18
that russia has real true live honest to
19:20
god legitimate claim
19:22
is pure bs uh you just you cannot look
19:25
at the overall situation
19:26
and conclude that by by if you really
19:28
look back
19:29
at all of these things i’ve mentioned
19:31
all this is out there so today what we
19:33
have
19:33
is it’s conquered by russia because by
19:36
god they want it and need it
19:37
that’s the reason and you’ve got turkey
19:39
now who’s vying to get into it
19:41
and you’ve got ukraine that probably has
19:45
the
19:45
most legitimate claim of any of the
19:47
players out there today
19:49
who’s going to fight to get it back
19:51
they’re moving troops up to the area the
19:52
disputed areas with russia
19:54
and you’ve got ukrainian troops facing
19:56
off against russia now
19:58
you’ve got everyone that feels
19:59
completely justified in what they’re
20:01
doing
20:01
that leads to fighting based on all of
20:04
the stuff that i’ve laid out
20:05
this area is probably going to go to war
20:08
i think you will see a
20:09
widespread shooting conflict between
20:12
ukraine
20:13
and russia in the short term their their
20:16
stockpiling men
20:17
equipment tanks aircraft all that stuff
20:20
on the ukrainian side
20:21
we’ll see will russia do some sort of
20:23
preemptory attack or we don’t know
20:25
but conflict in the near future these
20:28
are the reasons why
20:29
for the apologists for russia i mean i
20:31
recognize capability that they have
20:33
where they’re smart where they’re stupid
20:35
uh you know i i don’t
20:37
have any particular emotions over this
20:39
any direction but you got to recognize
20:41
they’re not doing anything for the
20:42
goodness of anybody they’re doing you
20:44
know anybody else
20:45
they’re doing it for their own national
20:46
security interest nothing more nothing
20:48
less that’s
20:49
that’s the story and the ukrainians view
20:51
it the same way it’s a real value to
20:53
them
20:54
and they want it back so that’s why i
20:55
think we’re going to see fighting in the
20:57
short term
21:17
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[Music]
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you
Click for entire transcript

Crimea is important, says Brad Johnson, because of its industrial areas and its warm water ports. It’s the only port Russia has useful year round, so Putin is hard pressed to give it up. Turkey’s President Erdogan claims it from their history there and Ukraine wants it back to where it was prior to the collapse of the USSR. But in the end? It’s not about who lives there and from whence they came – it’s about the money and power in controlling it. Watch this fascinating overview and decide for yourself who has the real claim. Maybe the Greeks do.

 

 

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