By Pepe Escobar
Feb. 28, 2014
Asia Times Online.com

Time waits for no one, but apparently will wait for Crimea. The speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, has confirmed there will be a referendum on greater autonomy from Ukraine on May 25.

Until then, Crimea will be as hot and steamy as carnival in Rio – because Crimea is all about Sevastopol, the port of call for the Russian Black Sea fleet.

If the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a bull, this is the red flag to end all red flags. Even if you’re deep in alcohol nirvana dancin’ your troubles away at carnival in Rio – or New Orleans, or Venice, or Trinidad and Tobago – your brain will have registered that NATO’s ultimate wet dream is to command a Western puppet Ukrainian government to kick the Russian navy out of its base in Sevastopol. The negotiated lease applies until 2042. Threats and rumors of reneging it have already emerged.

The absolute majority of the Crimean peninsula is populated by Russian speakers. Very few Ukrainians live there. In 1954, it took only 15 minutes for Ukrainian Nikita Krushchev – he of the banging shoe at the UN floor – to give Crimea as a free gift to Ukraine (then part of the USSR). In Russia, Crimea is perceived as Russian. Nothing will change that fact.

We’re not facing a new Crimean War – yet. Only up to a point. NATO’s wet dream is one thing; it is quite another to pull it off – as in ending the Russian fleet routinely leaving Sevastopol across the Black Sea through the Bosphorus and then reaching Tartus, Syria’s Mediterranean port. So yes, this is as much about Syria as about Crimea.

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