It didn’t begin with Crimea, a peninsula bordered by the  Black Sea on its west and the Sea of Azov on its east, annexed by the Russians in February, 2014. It began with the Ukrainian people months earlier, November 21, 2013, when the cabinet of then-President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, abandoned an agreement on a trade partnership with the European Union. According to the BBC, the agreement had been negotiated for months, and if executed, would have likely led to an “eastern-partnership” for the EU, not only with Ukraine but also a group of eastern countries (six in total), all formerly a part of the Soviet Union, and,  of which, Ukraine was the key. Shortly after rejecting the EU agreement, on December 17, 2013, pro-Russian President Yanukovich signed an agreement with Russia whereby Russia granted price concessions on natural gas supplies, plus $15 billion for Ukrainian Eurobonds. The agreement also relinquished Ukraine’s Kerch Peninsula to the Russian Navy, granting Russia highly desirable warm-water ports and strategic access to the Mediterranean and beyond. Do you see the two sides? EU aligned versus Russia aligned?

The Ukrainian Revolution began in Kiev as hundreds of thousands of protestors gathered in the capital city seeking the ouster of pro-Russian Yanukovich and his leadership for having abandoned the EU partnership and continuing a decades-long Russian fornication. The popular revolution was ultimately successful as the pro-Russian president, and alleged corrupt, “mafia lord,” Yanukovich fled the capital on February 21, 2014.  The next day, the Ukrainian parliament deposed Yanukovich and appointed interim President Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Russia condemned the action as illegitimate and the result of a coup d’état (sound familiar) and accused the United States and the EU of funding and directing the Ukrainian Revolution which led to Yanukovich’s fleeing Kiev. Russia declared that Yanukovich was illegally impeached and he remained the President of Ukraine, all the while lines were being drawn in the sand as Vladimir Putin positioned unmarked armed forces in Crimea. To the informed observer, Vladimir was simply laying down his claim to what Yanukovich had agreed to in the December agreement. After all, Crimea (and its Kerch Peninsula) was the diamond in the rough that Putin was apparently interested in after all; for beyond it lay the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, the one area the entire world is drawn to.

crimeaThe Crimean Peninsula is a major land mass on the northern coast of the Black Sea that is almost completely surrounded by water. The peninsula is located just south of the Ukrainian mainland and west of the Russian region of Kuban. It is surrounded by two seas: the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov to the east. The Kerch Peninsula is on the eastern tip of Crimea. The Kerch Peninsula was the subject of the Russia/Ukraine agreement executed by Yanukovich prior to his fleeing the country. Apparently, the Kerch Peninsula has significant military logistical advantages to Russia as the Mediterranean can be accessed more readily by the Russian Navy.

Perhaps you are like me. I assumed that the Crimean people opposed Russia’s annexation of their country. Not so. Crimea’s majority population is ethnic Russian and the Russian population of Crimea had the opposite view of Yanukovich’s actions to reject the EU agreement. They agreed with Yanukovich and supported his December agreement with Russia. On February 26th, a Crimean referendum was held resulting in over 90% of Crimeans supporting Russia rather than Ukraine. On March 17, the Crimean Parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation, to which Vladimir Putin readily endorsed by signing an agreement recognizing the sovereignty of Crimea. On March 27, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution, #68/292, that declared the Crimean Referendum invalid and the incorporation of Crimea into Russia as illegal. On May 25, Petro Poroshenko, known as the “chocolate king,” won the Ukraine election for president. The 48-year-old businessman promised to forge closer links with the EU (not Russia) and restore peace in restive eastern regions (pro-Russian). The eastern areas of the Ukraine, bordered by Russia, boycotted the Ukrainian election. Newly elected Ukrainian President Poroshenko now appears to be taking a heavier hand against the pro-Russian eastern areas of the Ukraine. Over fifty separatist rebels are reported killed by his troops as he has launched a military offensive against the Russian bordered areas, all of which are aligned with Russia.

I may not be an expert on Vladimir Putin but what I do know is he is not much on diplomacy. I cannot imagine that Ukraine’s actions against eastern states sympathetic to Russia and formerly a part of the Soviet Union will be abandoned to Ukraine by Putin.  Do you think that the Crimean Peninsula annexation, along with the Kerch Peninsula, was because Vladimir wanted more land? Vladimir may have revealed his end-game. It’s not Ukraine or Crimea. It’s Jerusalem, its neighbor to the south.

Here is the Scripture to support my view:

Ezekiel 38:15-16 (NASB) “You will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north [Russia is directly north of Israel], you and many peoples [Islamists of the Middle East and Iran] with you, all of them riding on horses, a great assembly and a mighty army; 16 and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog [the leader of Russia].

Stay tuned. This will not play out for a while yet.

Jesus come quickly.