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I know people will be concerned about the escalating situation in Ukraine. The West is as close to a nuclear war with Russia than we have been since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Russian land forces with air support are on the east side of Ukraine and RAF aircraft are being deployed to the west of Ukraine. The russian Defence Minister said publicly four weeks ago that if russian forces are attacked in any way their first response will be nuclear.

This is not a political blog. I'm determined not to do politics on Ipernity. I'm just going to stick to calling opposing sides the East or the West. I point no accusing fingers.

Some background. The main russian blue sea, warm water naval base is in Crimea just outside Sebastopol. There are ground military bases all over Crimea and two airfields. Tens of thousands of crimeans are employed by the russian military. Dockyard workers, those who supply fresh food and booze, all the ancillary support. In the Black Sea the russians have enough room for fleet maneuvers. Their submarines can spend days or weeks doing whatever training exercises they want to do.

The only other comparable base for Russia is in the Baltic. The thing with the Baltic though is that they need to pass through the North Sea to get to the Atlantic and british ships are constantly on patrol looking for them. We want to know how many russian submarines are passing back and forth. But, from the Black Sea russian submarines can pass back and forth through the Bosphorous Strait freely. Then they're into the Mediteranean and can slip into the Atlantic without detection. Nobody has any idea how many russian submarines are in the Atlantic.

This is a scary thought for the US. One modern russian submarine will typically have ten launch tubes for missiles and these will normally have twenty warheads. From outside the US exclusion zone that's be two hundred warheads heading for the US east coast. I doubt if they could all be intercepted. And even if they could then two hundred nuclear explosions would make the entire east coast of the US unihabitable. I'm not suggesting the russians would do that. New York is the third largest financial network in the world and Russia wouldn't want to mess that up. I don't think they're above popping one missile onto wherever it was the US used for nuclear testing years ago though just to make a point.

Ukraine is on the edge of civil war. In fact it may have started before I've finished typing this. Elections are going on today. They need them as they have no legitimate government.

About six months ago the US gave five billion dollars to arrange a military coup in Ukraine. The president and his family had to make a run for it to Russia after they'd been threatened with suicide bombings and the killing of any family members who could be found. Most of the elected government ran too after the same threats.

The West is terrified of russian submarines and they'd do just about anything to close down the Black Sea port in Crimea.

They have a problem though. Well, actually two problems. The first is the Bosphorous. It's only about three kilometers wide at the Black Sea end and a little bit under three kilometres at the Mediteranean. There's a bendy bit in the middle too so anybody sailing up there needs to slow down at the corner. The naval port is unassailable by land forces or by aircraft. Any naval attack would take ages to sail up the Bosphorous and the russians would be waiting when they came out. Three kilometres wide might sound like a lot but it's not very much in naval warfare.

The second problem is also the Bosphorous. Turkey signed an international treaty some ten or fifteen years ago that only Countries with a sea coast on the Black Sea could travel freely up and down with naval ships. It's been ratified by the UN and agreed by every Country in the world. If Western forces want to go up there then they have to apply for permission first from Turkey. Not much chance of a surprise attack up there then.

First votes are in from the districts of Lugansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine and they reject the coup led government in Kiev. Here's a copy and paste:

"An attempt at provocation was registered in Lugansk, where a group of people tried to take away ballot papers from voters, a representative of the city’s self-defense forces, Vasily Nikitin, told RIA Novosti. He said the attempt to disrupt voting was foiled and the incident is being investigated.

Security measures have been increased on the day of the historic vote with self-defense units in both regions preparing to thwart any attempt by Kiev’s military and paramilitary forces to disrupt the vote and prevent provocations by radicals at the polling stations.

If a majority of voters answer “yes” on Sunday the regions will gain full moral right to officially state they do not accept what is happening in the country, anti-coup protesters say. The combined population of Donetsk and Lugansk industrial regions, rejecting the legitimacy of the coup-installed Kiev authorities, stands at about 6.7 million in a country of 45 million. "

Other districts will be voting over the next few days.