Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Black Sea

What the French navy is doing in the Black Sea? Repatriating more Jews from Crimea?

This detour by Russia allows us to judge the relative amplitude of the Ukraine crisis of 2014. This crisis translate the incapacity of the EU and USA in figuring out the “Third Europe“.

Maybe many people in the US can enumerate half a dozen of what are labeled the Western European States (the industrialized ones), and a few might still remember a couple of the newly created States in Central Europe after the implosion of Yugoslavia (Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Herzegovina, Macedonia…), but it is doubtful that many US citizens know anything about the other States in Eastern Europe, the “Third Europe, close to the borders with Russia and that were constellations within the Soviet Union.

How many knows of the 3 little Baltic new States, Belorussian, the States in the Caucasus (around the Black Sea) which also includes Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Romania… ? All these States that were occupied by the Ottoman Empire for over 4 centuries.

The implosion of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall have created a “post-Soviet Space” that was subjected to the various liberal  “choc therapies”

During Clinton and Bush Sr., the US encouraged varieties of “Orange Colored Revolutions“, especially in Ukraine and Georgia.

If Russia has been feeling humiliated and has this urge of taking matters in its hands, the European Union failed to show a little perspicacity in the treatment of the problems of the tiny emerging new States.

What the French navy is doing in the Black Sea?

Four French war navy  accompanied the destroyer and missile launcher USS Donald Cook. The bordering States of the Black Sea have signaled the arrival of these ships, otherwise, the “deployment” was decided in secrecy and not made public.

This operation was camouflaged under the NATO Active Endeavor maneuvering, which was not intended to be conducted in the Black Sea.

So far, neither the French government nor the US have made it public this navy deployment.

The two ships Dupuy de Lome and Alize, dedicated to underwater missions (missions of special under cover operations), along with anti-submarine frigate Dupleix, have manifested operational intentions.

Has France decided to be part of a military alliance with the US against Russia “provocations”?

Note 1: French text 

Que fait la flotte française en mer Noire ? - Communiqué </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Lire ce communiqué sur mon blog :</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>#France #USA #Ukraine #Russie

Note 2: The French politician JP Chevenement wrote:

Ce détour par la Russie permet de relativiser l’ampleur de la crise ukrainienne de 2014. Celle-ci traduit l’incapacité à penser ce que Georges Nivat appelle « la troisième Europe », après la première et la seconde, celles d’avant et d’après la chute du mur de Berlin. L’implosion de l’URSS a créé un « espace post-soviétique » voué pour l’essentiel après 1991 aux « thérapies de choc » libérales.

Les Etats-Unis, à l’époque des Présidents Bill Clinton et George W. Bush ont encouragé les « révolutions de couleur ». Si la Russie, humiliée, a voulu reprendre la main dans son « étranger proche », on ne peut pas dire que l’Union européenne ait fait preuve de beaucoup de perspicacité dans le traitement du problème « post-soviétique ».


Forced reforms and atrocities go hand in hand:  Peter “The Great” of Russia (1672-1727)

On March 1697, Tsar Peter “The Great” of Russia (25 years of age) started his 16 months journey visit of western Europe; this was the first time any Tsar ever ventured out of Russia.

A total of 250 people formed the “Great Embassy” and Peter was supposed to be traveling incognito because he had no patience for official ceremonies and he intended to get plenty of hands on the current inventions and state of the arts in shipbuilding and military equipment.

Ambassadors Lefort, Menshikov, and Feodor Golovin were to substitute for Peter in official ceremonies, negotiate, and sign treaties, especially forming an alliance against Turkey so that Russia could acquire a sea port on the Black Sea.

A year ago, the ragtag Russian army managed to take the Turkish Azov Fortress.  The previous year, the Russians failed in the attempt because the Turkish navy shipped to the fortress with supplies and reinforcement. Consequently, Peter built within a year on Voronezh 22 galleys and blocked the river way to the Turkish navy.

Peter loved sailing and building ships and worked alongside the shipbuilder:  he wanted to build a Russian navy.

The first stop was to the Swedish fortress in Riga.  Peter was humiliated by a Swede soldier as he was taking measurements of the fortification.  The governor of Riga replied: “The soldier was doing his job. If your friend wants to travel incognito, incidents like this will occur.

Peter traveled as Peter Mikhailovich with specialty as Bombardier.  He was a giant, almost 2 meter tall and presented an angular athletic strength.  He was afflicted by convulsions, especially in stressful moments: The left side of his face contorted and he looked disfigured; his muscles twisted and his eyes rolled back; the left arm flailing.

The second stop was Konigsburg in Prussia.  King FredericI took Peter hunting and they became friends.  A colonel in the Prussian army was satisfied with Peter’s artillery performance and gave him a certificate as expert in ballistics.

The next stop was Hanover, a small kingdom in northern Germany.  Sophia and lady Charlotte, respectively mother and wife of King Frederick, extended a dinner invitation to Peter and were pleased with his company.  Peter showed the ladies the calluses on his hands for working in the shipyards; they stayed up all night.

Sophia wrote a letter stating: “Peter is a prince, very good and very bad:  His character is exactly that of his country.”

The following destination was Holland (the Netherlands) where peter was to learn shipbuilding from the masters of the seas.  The stay in Zaandam was cut short because kids started throwing rocks on Peter, not knowing his position.  Thus, Peter and his six shipbuilding companions moved to Amsterdam, the greatest port of Europe at the time.

Peter worked on ships for the East India Company as a an apprentice but he was dissatisfied because the Dutch did not use drawings or plans or a written method.

Thus, Peter collected whatever sketches he got his hands on.  Peter was impressed with the open-mindedness of the Dutch; they are a prosperous people and the government focuses on successful trade; they live according to their preferences; they are not afraid of new ideas and their ports are open to ideas and goods.

In January 1698, the party landed in England and Peter received a private visit of King William III in his modest quarters. On a visit to Kensington Palace, Peter was fascinated by an anemometer for predicting the weather.

He visited a cannon factory, the Greenwich Observatory, a coin-making mint, the Academy of Sciences, Oxford University, and acquired new ways of shipbuilding.

The anecdote that Peter met with Issac Newton is not true:  Peter was a hands on person for pragmatic methods. Peter followed a session of the parliament from the roof.

A typical meal for Peter and his 21 companions living in a house consisted of 5 ribs of beef, on sheep, three-quarters of a lamb, a shoulder roasted, a loin of veal, 6 rabbits and ended up destroying the furniture and garden of the host.

The Great Embassy set out to Vienna (Austria) and met the powerful Leopold. Peter had recruited distinguished 640 experts such as Dutch Admiral Cornelius Cruys, Captain John Perry, sailors and craftsmen; 260 chests of technical devices accompanied the return home.

The Embassy was to head to Venice when news that the “streltsy” (the previous army stationed in Moscow) revolted.  Those famished soldiers were banished to keeping the frontiers after the 1697 uprising; the Scottish General Patrick Gordon tamed the revolt and sent 2000 prisoners to Moscow.

As Peter arrived to Russia, he kept a scissor handy to cut and trim the long beard of the nobles and boyars; he also cut short the long oversized sleeves of fur coats.

Within two weeks, invited people arrived clean-shaven:  people were afraid going to hell if they cut their beard.  Noblemen also arrived and wearing comfortable cloths.  He forbade people and nobles from bowing to the ground to him or another nobleman.  The Patriarch was saved from meeting with the two English barbers.

Peter adopted the European calendar, allowed women to attend dinners and parties and instituted a European system of coinage.

Then Peter turned his attention to punishing the streltsy.  These 2,000 captured Russian soldiers who revolted were interrogated and sentenced to death by hanging or dismemberment. Must “giving example” be meted out with utmost savagery and cruelty?

Forced changes and reforms in any society and consequent atrocities and brutalities go hand in hand as a determined monarch holds supreme power.

The representative of the boyyars (feudals) decided to give Peter, a couple of years before he died at the young age of 52, the title “Peter The Great”.

Peter did not believe in his divine  power but the Russian Orthodox Church made the citizens believe that the Tsar is the delegate of God.

Actually, at the death of the Empress Regent the church was faced with two options: 1. Electing the most legitimate but mentally handicapped heir Ivan from Tsar Alexis’ first wife or

2. the 10 year-old, robust, and tall Peter.

The Patriarch demanded a Zemsky Sebor (the people gathered in front of the Kremlin will vote) and the people wanted Peter. Peter was a hand-on monarch and worked with his hands along side the workers building the first Russian navy.

Sofia, the eldest half-sister of Peter initiated a revolt by the streltsy; they invaded the Kremlin and ransacked this fortress for three days.  Peter was deeply traumatized and hid in the Kremlin until the revolt subsided.

Sofia ruled as regent for 7 years, with her brother Ivan and Peter as co-Tsar.  Peter lived with his mother Natalya in Preobrazhensky, 7 miles north of Moscow.

Peter spent his time playing war games with recruited makeshift army of boys in the neighborhood and practiced carpentry.  One day, Peter heard that the streltsy are “on the move” and he jumped from his bed and fled in his nightgown to the Troitsky Monastery, 45 miles Northeast of Moscow.

Soon, General Gordon joined Peter with his army and the streltsy failed to back Sofia who was sent to live in a monastery.

In 1695, Peter advanced with an army of 30,000 to capture the fortress of Azov from the Ottoman Empire. It is a total failure and Peter said: “We did not go wrong anywhere.  We have begun our schooling in the real art of war“.

The next year, Peter tried again reinforced with 22 navy galleys and entered Azov. Peter decided to have a port in the north and had to take lands from Sweden.   Thus, he set siege to the fortress of Narva on the River Neva.

The even younger King Charles XII of Sweden forced-marched with 10,000 veteran soldiers and engaged the 30,000 Russian army at dusk.  Peter was not in the camp during the attack. The Russian army retreated in fear and disarray and drowned in the river.

While King Charles XII was finishing conquering Poland, thinking that his army will inevitably crush the Russians anytime he wished, Peter re-organized his army and attacked the Baltic river towns and cities and conquered the strategic citadel of Noteborg on the Neva.

The Russians captured Narva in 1704 and started building a seaport on swampy lands; the city will be called St. Petersburg.  Ships and land carriages, trading in St. Petersburg were to carry stones for stone constructions.

King Charles XII advanced in June 1908 to punish Peter and capture Moscow as winter was setting in.  That was the first time that an army ventured in the heart of Russia.  (A century later, Napoleon Bonaparte must have studied this calamitous defeat of the Swedish army but he opted to wait for Tsar Alexander to negotiate while in Moscow).

The Russian army avoided major frontal attacks and disturbed the Swedish supply lines and burned the fields and cities (Baturin in Ukraine where the cossacks were to join the Swedes) that could be used for resting location to the Swedish army during winter.  Peter engaged the major attack in Poltava and crushed the Swedish army.

Peter had to return the Azov fortress to the Turks as he tried to reach the Black Sea and concentrated his attention on building and enlarging St. Petersburg; the town counted 34,000 in 1714 and became the capital of Russia during Peter and during Empress Catherine “the Great” who managed to have access to the Black Sea (half a century later) .

Peter had hard times with his son Alexis who asked for asylum in Vienna.   Alexis was lured back to Russia and confined in prison and then died in prison.

In 1719, the second young boy of Peter, Peter Petrovich, from his second wife Catherine died at the age of 4.  Peter was left with no male heir and was devastated.

From then on, Peter focused on internal matters in reforming the government structure, the finances, the management, and the legal system. He confronted the endemic problem of corruption and divided the administration into nine colleges, emulated from the Prussian and Swedish examples: War, Foreign Affairs, Admiralty, Justice, Financial Control, Commerce, Mining and Manufacturing, Revenue Collection, and Expenditure.

Peter built the Winter Palace and ordered all high ranking officials to residing in St.Petersburg. He was frequently sick from many ailments related to “rich food”.  He tried to save sailors on the river in winter and dived in the cold water and died the next day.

The sailors watched the giant stone stature of Peter astride a wild, rearing stallion as the bells toll in St. Petersburg.

Catherine ruled as regent for 2 years and died.  Peter II, son of Alexis, succeeded as Tsar at the age of 12.

Note:  This story and biography was taken from Joe Foleno in the SABIS series

The five superpowers are abusing of a massive smoke screen to vilifying Iran’s nuclear program as a serious threat to world peace.  Why Russia and China went along?  It seems that the US gave the two States sizeable political concessions.  What about France and England, the lesser two “superpowers” with veto rights at the UN, meant to be the biggest losers in that agreement?  The oil multinationals of France and England have succumbed to the US pressures and are out of Iran.

Let us go back to the latest Presidential election in Iran in June 2009.  The western media and State governments shouted fraud and kept up the music loud and sustained the media pressure for a month until it died down.

The opposition candidate, Hussein Moussavi, had for allies the urban upper and middle classes, the bazar merchants, and the urban clerics or mullahs:  The urban mullahs wanted to weaken the Rahbar (Supreme Guide) Kamenei in order to regain lost power and re-dip freely in the treasury.  President Ahmadinejad had for allies the countryside, the poor clerics in the countryside, the bassidjis (Revolution Guards), and the majority of the lower middle class (the patriots aghast with western powers’ pressures) residing in the poorer quarters in urban centers.  It is to be noted that urban centers dwellers are as populous as countryside people in Iran.  The army had no interest supporting the opposition since Iran was embarking on self-sufficiency in manufacturing the military hardware:  The army was in no mood of renegotiating the defense budget.

Fact is, Ahmadi won the election.  The small margin was not appreciated by the Rahbar Kamenei.  The crackdown on the Moussavi’s “green movement” at the eve of the result counting and the following weeks was mainly a preemptive show of force meaning: “We have won.  Do not count on us to negotiating sharing power”.  More precisely, the Rahbar Khamenei was sending the strong message: “You, mullahs and Ayatollahs of urban centers in Teheran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Isfahan, you go to hell.  I am the Supreme Guide and I won’t be sharing power.”

The western powers got the Iranian message clear and loud: “This is not the proper time for Iran to bow down to foreign pressures,  Iran will be steadfast to its policy of putting Iran on the map among the great countries, having the means to demonstrating its independence, self-sufficiency, and self-autonomy to decision-making”

The “veto superpowers” decided to send a counter message: “We are the only ones to deciding who is to be a totally independent and self-sufficient State.” They voted on a stricter economic and military embargo.  The embargo is targeting the basseji (Revolutionary Guard) trade infrastructures that Ahmadi managed to institute as alternative competitor to the urban bazaars.  Anyway, the opposition lacks military organizations to counter the well-organized bassijis.

The embargo cannot hurt the lower middle class in Iran:  The government has opened up enough infrastructure projects to put this class to work.  The Revolutionary Guard has no alternative but to expand its businesses and to displacing the urban bazar merchants and wholesalers in the distribution of goods.  In medium-term, it is the middle class (the “green movement” opposition of this current government)  that will be crying “Uncle”.  But the US will feel helpless coming to their rescue:  The US will be striking deals with Ahmadi to getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan with the least cost possible.

My impression is that the blockade will not last effectively:  Russia and China have vast interests in Iran and are already worrying that the US is striking a deal with Iran at their expense.  Western Europe has most to lose in that conflict and will be sidetracked when the clouds clear-up:  France and England will scream “Uncle”.  But “Uncle Sam” is bankrupt and can no longer afford to extending another Marshal Plan to succor Europe.

The Iranian middle class of professionals and intellectuals have to get back to work; what they used to do in the US and overseas before they returned to Iran:  Working without shame and contributing to the effective nation’s production.  Working with and among the people is the foundation of individual dignity and means to efficient reforms:  The middle class in Iran has to stop playing coy.

Note:  Already Iran has secured an exit port to the Mediterranean Sea in Lebanon.  The latest extended visit of President Ahmadinejad to Lebanon was meant to fine tune his strategic position on the Mediterranean Sea as Iran will embark on producing inexpensive consumer goods.   It would be interesting for Lebanese merchants, with footholds in most of African States, to generating excellent profits when Iran begin building warehouses in Lebanese ports.  Most likely, Turkey will feel the heat for competition with its inexpensive goods, but most likely Iran and Turkey will iron out major divergences:  They have no alternatives but to cooperate closely.

Note 2: Empress Catherine of Russia managed an exit to the Black Sea “The jewel to my crown” in the late 18th century:  Currently, 80% of the Black Sea maritime trades as done by Russia merchant ships.




February 2023

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