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- The Ukrainian Fleet in the Era of the C entral Rada
THE UKRAINIAN REVIEW
north and east o f the peninsula who wished to secede from Crimea itself and
remain a part o f Ukraine, should Crimean independence become a reality.
The autumn session o f the Crimean Parliament, which opened on 24
September 1992, annulled certain previous Acts, including the laws on sepa
rate Crimean citizenship and on the President o f Crimea and finally rejected
the motion to hold a referendum on Crimean independence.22
The balance o f forces in the (formally 192-member) Crimean Parliament
sh o w e d that the number o f convinced supporters o f the Republican
Movement o f Crimea constituted a minority o f some 10 to 20% o f members
actually present at the session, i.e. from 16 to 32 out o f 154 deputies who
took part in the voting. The new makeup o f political groups in the local par
liament comprised several main trends. The “Party o f power” led by Bagrov
has become more moderate since the negotiations o f May and June 1992, as
a result o f which Crimea achieved the capabilities and rights to establish
independent social, economic and cultural ties with other countries.
The Left-Centrist “Democratic Crimea" parliamentary bloc first o f all accept
ed for tactical reasons Crimea’s inclusion in Ukraine and then decided to
cooperate with Kyiv-based political parties o f a similar orientation and to par
ticipate in Ukrainian politics as an autonomous regional political movement,
like the members o f the Christian-Democratic bloc KDU/KSU in Germany.
The one definitely pro-Ukrainian force was an unstable coalition called
“Crimea with Ukraine”, which included local sections o f Ukrainian political
parties and some Crimean regional factions and groups o f various political
During spring and summer 1992, another political bloc called the
“Congress o f People’s Deputies: ‘For Civil Peace and Concord’” began to be
active and gained a certain political influence and moral authority in Crimea.
On 25 September 1992, the Crimean Parliament amended the constitution
o f the autonomous republic, bringing it into accordance with the Ukrainian
law. As a result, the Republican Movement o f Crimea found itself in a posi
tion o f an illegal and anti-constitutional organisation. Its leaders therefore
were forced to announce the dissolution o f the RMC in order to establish a
formally non-political Russophone movement o f Crimea.23
In the context o f world constitutional experience, the present position o f
Crimea inside Ukraine is somewhat akin to the status o f Northern Ireland
under the Government o f Ireland Act 1920, in force in this province o f the
United Kingdom until 1972.
Although the internal separatist forces in Crimea seem temporarily to have
been defeated, the situation cannot be regarded as stable and secure, on
account o f the offensive tactics o f the majority o f members o f the Parliament
22 O lexandr Pilat, "The Republic o f Crimea has its o w n flag and coat o f arms”, in
25 September 1992, p. 3.
23 O lexan dr Pilat, "T h e Republic o f Crimea is a legal dem ocratic and c ivic state inside
29 September 1992, p. 3-
o f the Russian Federation and the direct involvement o f many Russian offi
cers o f the Black Sea Fleet in the political struggle. According to media
reports, in January 1993 the Russian Parliament began debating the political
status o f Crimea in order to prepare and introduce a confederate union
between Russia and Crimea to demand some form o f Russian-Ukrainian
condominium in this region as a first step towards Crimea’s inclusion into
Russia. A radical demand for some form o f Russian jurisdiction over the
town o f Sevastopol was also put forward at this time. 24 2
During the first few weeks o f this year, the separatist movements in
Crimea regrouped themselves into a coalition o f Russian nationalist and
Communist parties and movements under the name the “People’s Unity”
C N arodnoye Y ed in stvo). It includes the remnants o f the Republican
M ovem ent o f Crimea (the Republican Party o f Crimea and the Russian
Society). The Union o f Communists o f Crimea, the Communist Party o f
Employed Persons, the Russian Party (founded under the influence of the
ultra-right activist Vladimir Zhirinovskiy; this group is active in Sevastopol),
and the Union o f Russian Women o f Crimea.26
Another problem with political connotations concerns the ethnic move
ment o f the Crimean Tatars. Their leading organisation named the Mejlis
(parliament) o f the Crimean Tatar people can be compared with the Islamic
parliament in the UK or with the Board o f Deputies o f British Jews. The offi
cial programme o f the M ejlis is to bring back the Crimean Tatars from
Central Asia, to safeguard their settlement in Crimea, and to implement the
Crimean Tatars’ right to national self-determination on Crimean territory as
their historic patria. Officially, the number o f Crimean Tatars in the former
Soviet Union is about 500,000, but the Tatar leaders quote figures o f 600,000
o f even 1,000,000 persons.
The M ejlis o f the Crimean Tatar people has pretensions to achieving
international respectability and recognition in the Islamic world. During his
visit to Turkey in March 1992 the Speaker o f the Mejlis, Mustafa Jemilev, was
received at the highest diplomatic level.26 While adopting a generally critical
line, Jemilev’s stance is much more loyal to Kyiv than to Simferopol. In
autumn 1992, the first direct clashes between Tatars and the Crimean local
authorities took place. There are some militant factions in the Mejlis, espe
cially the semi-autonomous organisation “The National M ovem ent o f
Crimean Tatars”, which tried to take possession o f lands on the sea coast
and in October 1992 organised a violent attack on the Simferopol Parliament
House in order to force the members to assign more territories for Tatar
resettlement and funds for their social and cultural needs.
24 Elena Nevelskaya, “Crimea: the Russian Parliament discusses the versions” , in
(M oscow ), 20 January 1993, p. 1.
25 See: Tatyana Korobova, “T he People's Unity” — under this title a n ew bloc o f socio-politi
cal organisations em erged in Crimea, in
29 April 1993, p. 3.
18 March 1992, p. 14.
THE UKRAINIAN REVIEW
The Crimean Tatar movement seems to be the most contradictory factor
o f Crimean politics in the immediate future. Such issues as the stance of the
Turkish government and ethnic organisations o f Crimean Tatar-descended
persons in Turkey, Islamic influence within the Tatar community in Crimea
and dangerous trends in relations between the Tatars and the local Russian
and Ukrainian population could possibly pose acute problems for Ukraine’s
national security policy in Crimea.
5. A model of security
The analysis o f inter-ethnic relations in Ukraine provides an opportunity to
elaborate and implement a general security model for the whole complex of
ethnicity in transitional societies. The following scheme can be applied to
security issues and national security policies in several other countries which
have emerged in the geopolitical space o f the former Soviet Union and in
most o f East-European states as well. This model deals predominantly with
the whole complex o f ethnic and regional politics including the internal and
external dimensions o f inter-ethnic and international relations on a state level.
General function: ethnicity and nationalism
The main goals o f the state structures in this connection are:
a) to preserve the integrity o f the state,
b ) to maintain civil order,
c) to provide state-building processes.
At the basic level, this presupposes the following internal and external
factors and components which challenge the state’s security interests so that
an effective response by the government is necessary.
I. Internal dimensions
1. Effectiveness o f the governmental system
a. The political and moral state o f society; conditions for democracy.
b. Effectiveness o f governmental control over territorial self-government
and local government.
c. National and local level, o f governmental support.
d. Programmes and activities o f the political on the national level.
In Ukraine, during 1992 and early 1993, when the influence o f the state
powers was quite effective, these problems were not view ed as a matter o f
2. Constitutional order and constitutional proposals on the reform o f the
administrative territorial structure
The new Ukrainian constitution has not yet been adopted, indeed, the
procedures for ratifying and implementing it have not, as yet, been agreed.
Three main variants o f an administrative-territorial system have been put for
ward by various political groups and movements.
a. A unitary state with some form o f weak regional self-government.
b. A unitary d ecen tra lised state w ith a la rge d e g re e o f standard
autonomous powers for regional self-government.
c. A federal state structure with a single form o f self-government for the
regions and an exceptional or standard level o f autonomy for Crimea.
3. Federalist and regional autonomist movements
The activities o f autonomist movements are o f considerable significance
in Crimea, and the Kharkiv, Donbas and Transcarpathian regions, but on the
national level there is only a weak federalist movement which is represented
only by a small group o f members (representing peripheral regions) in the
4. Nationalist ethnic political movements and the ethnic vote
Since the Republican Movement o f Crimea was dissolved, there is no
longer any purely political organisations in Ukraine which take a Russian
nationalist line. The two main Russian organisations in Crimea are the (polit
ically oriented) Russophone movement and the (socio-cultural) Russian
Society o f Crimea. The Crimean Tatar movement is a politically mobilised
and potentially separatist force.
The only community to date to vote as an ethnic bloc is the Romanian
minority in the Chernivtsi region. In the future, however, the Crimean Tatars
may w ell vote in this manner.
5. Separatist movements
F ollow ing the dissolution o f the Republican M ovem ent o f Crimea in
autumn 1992, local Russian nationalist groups tried to create a bloc o f nation
alist, Communist and pro-Fascist organisations, analogous to the radical-patri
otic opposition in Moscow. This Communist-Republican alliance claims to
have the support o f 40% o f the local electorate. Some illegal political groups
in the Transcarpathian and Chernivtsi regions, have proclaimed separatist
ideas, but these organisations do not enjoy any wide public support.
6. Ethnic violence and terrorist activities
N o such phenomena have been observed in Ukraine, except for the
Crimean Tatars’ attack on the Crimean Parliament and some cases o f physi
cal violence perpetrated by RMC supporters against pro-Ukrainian politi
cians. A violent outcome is, however, possible, in the case o f any future
clashes in Crimea between the Tatars and the Slavonic population.
THE UKRAINIAN REVIEW
II. External dimensions
1. The level o f the international recognition o f state borders and interna
tional security guarantees.
2. Ethnic claims by foreign states and political movements.
3. Territorial claims by foreign states and political movements.
4. Foreign illegal activities.
A number o f statements have been issued on the part o f Russian and
Romanian politicians, making various ethnic and territorial claims against
Ukraine. Territorial claims have been constantly discussed in the Russian
Parliament where they gained the support o f the majority o f deputies o f dif
ferent political orientations. In view o f Ukraine’s officially neutral status and
her total lack o f political and strategic allies, the threat o f permanent pressure
and sanctions from Russia must be regarded as very serious and dangerous.
External dimensions are comparatively far more significant in the current
Ukrainian model o f national security. Internal and external implications o f
inter-ethnic relations in Ukraine stress the necessity o f reinforcing national
security by adopting a new constitution which will give clear definition o f
regional status, the responsibilities o f regional self-government and the sta
tus o f Crimea. It is no less necessary to confirm the recognition o f Ukraine’s
frontiers with her neighbours and to work out mutual agreements with these
countries on the protection o f the rights o f minorities.
Obtaining international security guarantees in the context o f Ukraine’s
long-term commitment to nuclear disarmament is likewise a very desirable
but less realistic prospect.
THE UKRAINIAN NAVY IN 1917-1920
The Navy in the Era of the Central Rada
Ukrainian traditions in the Black Sea Fleet go back a long time. For 129
years after the Pereyaslav Treaty,1 from 1654 to 1783, the armed forces o f
the Hetman state1
2 * * included a Ukrainian Cossack fleet. A careful study o f the
works o f Russian scholar, Ye. Tarle, on the Russo-Turkish ( ‘‘Crimean”) War
o f 1854-1855, indicates that the defence o f Sevastopol was conducted by
sailors o f Ukrainian origin, as their surnames corroborate. Moreover, the
commander o f the city’s defence, Admiral Pavlo Nakhimov, came from the
old Ukrainian family o f the Nakhimovychi. Later, in 1905, the Ukrainian
sailors Hryhoriy Vakulenchuk and Opanas Matiushenko led the uprising on
the battleship Potemkin.
Ukrainian cultural organisations, such as the “Kobzar” society, established
in Sevastopol in 1905, had a considerable influence in raising the national
awareness o f the Ukrainians in the fleet. Following the February Revolution o f
1917, therefore, Ukrainian Sailors’ and Soldiers Councils were set up on many
ships o f the Black Sea Fleet towards the end o f April. Similar Councils were
also set up within the Sevastopol garrison and the naval aviation service.
This spirit o f Ukrainian revival could also be seen in other fleets o f the
Russian empire. In the Baltic Fleet, for instance, a Ukrainian naval revolu
tionary staff was form ed by Senior Lieutenant Mykhailo Bilynskyi and
Lieutenant S. Shramchenko. There was also a plan to Ukrainise the com
1 T h e Treaty o f Pereyaslav betw een Ukraine and Muscovy was signed in 1654. Under its p ro
visions, Ukraine accepted the protection o f the Muscovite Tsar, but remained a separate b od y
politic, preserving its o w n socio-political and ecclesiastical order, its o w n central and local g o v
ernments, army and financial system, and the right to carry on limited diplom atic relations
under the supervision o f the tsarist government. H ow ever, Ukraine became incorporated m ore
and m ore into the Muscovite state, gradually becom ing a vassal state.
2 T he Hetman state (1648-1764) was an autonomous Cossack republic. Its head o f state was
the "Hetman”. Hetman derives from the o ld German “Hoeftmann” or Commander-in-chief, and
is approxim ately equivalent to the title o f "Hospodar” o f Moldavia or “ D oge" o f the Republic o f
THE UKRAINIAN REVIEW
mands o f the cruiser Svitlana, the destroyers Ukraina, Haydamak and oth
ers, to raise the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian national flag, and to transfer
these vessels to the Black Sea. These plans, however, could not be imple
ment, ow in g to the Bolshevik Revolution in October/Novem ber, 1917.
Ukrainian Councils were also set up in the Caspian, Siberian, Amur, and
Northern Fleets. A very interesting proposal was put forward for the Caspian
Fleet: Ukraine was to be given access to the Caspian Sea, through a flotilla
o f ships o f the former Caspian Fleet, transferred to Ukrainian command and
based at the mouth o f the River Terek. Negotiations on this issue were initi
ated with the government o f the Kuban National Republic.3 However, for
various reasons, nothing came o f this plan.
The Ukrainian Fleet in the Era of the C entral Rada
In July 1917 the destroyer Zavydnyi became one o f the first to raise the
Ukrainian national flag. By November 1917 more than half o f the ships o f
the Black Sea Fleet had followed her example. On December 22, 1917, the
Central Rada4 in Kyiv set up the Ukrainian General Secretariat o f Naval
Affairs, headed by a w ell-known socialist activist, Dmytro Antonovych.
Being a civilian, however, he proved totally incompetent in naval matters.
The first piece o f legislation concerning the fleet — the “Provisional law on
the fleet o f the UNR [Ukrainian National Republic5]” — was enacted by the
Central Rada on January 14, 1918. This law proclaimed that the Central Rada
had assumed control o f the Black Sea Fleet o f the Russian empire. The fleet
would carry out coastal defence duties and protect Ukraine’s merchant ship
ping on the Black and A zo v Seas. The UNR undertook all obligations to
maintain the fleet and harbour facilities.
The establishment o f the Ukrainian Navy was opposed by all pro-Russian
organisations and groupings. The Bolsheviks w ere particularly vocal in
attacking it. The situation in Crimea kept changing. The sailors, bewildered
by the various propaganda campaigns, changed their “national" views
almost daily: raising the blue-and-yellow, the red, or black (anarchist) flags
on their ships, according to which propagandist had impressed them most
T h e state which cam e into being on February 16, 1918, on the territory o f the form er
Kuban oblast o f the Russian Empire. W hen the Bolsheviks seized p o w e r in Petrograd, the
Kuban organs took over full control and the Legislative
(C ou ncil) proclaim ed the Kuban
T h e Central Rada was set up in Kyiv on March 17, 1917, as an all-Ukrainian representative
body. A t the end o f March, Professor Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, w h o returned to K yiv from exile in
Russia, becam e its president. O n April 19-21 the Central Rada called an All-Ukrainian National
Congress in which delegates from the organisations o f the w h o le o f Ukraine took part. T h e
Congress elected the Central Rada as the standing Ukrainian representative assembly. It was
overthrow n by a coup d ’état led by Pavlo Skoropadskyi on April 29, 1918 (s e e note 6).
5 T h e Ukrainian National Republic was created on N ovem ber 20, 1917, by the Central Rada
(s e e note 4).
recently. Finally, Kyiv realised its mistake in ignoring the strategic impor
tance to Ukraine o f Crimea, the general headquarters o f the Black Sea Fleet.
The Zaporizhzhya Corps was assigned to clearing Crimea o f the Bolsheviks.
A detachment led by Colonel Pctro Bolbochan was dispatched to occupy
Crimea and take over the Sevastopol naval base.
Despite strong resistance from the Bolsheviks, the battle for Melitopol
began on April 18, which shortly afterwards fell into Ukrainian hands.
C olonel Bolbochan’s group rapidly pushed the Bolsheviks beyond the
Syvash fortifications. After a successful night manoeuvre, Colonel Zelynskyi’s
troops caused panic among the enem y and the Second Zaporizhzhya
Regiment occupied the enemy trenches. On April 22 Dzhankoy was taken,
and on April 25 Simferopol was cleared o f the Bolsheviks. The ITordicnko
Regiment occupied Bakhchesaray. A panic began in Sevastopol.
F o llo w in g this successful m ilitary op eration , con dition s appeared
favourable for realising the demands o f the Central Rada law placing the
fleet under the control o f the Ukrainian slate. The commands o f the two
largest ships, the dreadnoughts Volya and the Empress Catherine the Great,
agreed on the election o f a single command o f the fleet, and on April 29 to
raise the Ukrainian flag on all the ships. Those reluctant to carry out this
order were to be forced to do so by the 12-inch guns o f the two dread
Prom ptly at 1(5 00 hrs on April 29, 1918, the flagship St. George the
B rin ger o f Victories gave the order for the fleet to raise the Ukrainian flag.
At that time the Black Sea Fleet consisted o f three subdivisions o f battle
ships (8 vessels), one subdivision o f cruisers (4 vessels), one subdivision o f
hydrographical reconnaissance vessels (6 vessels), a division o f destroyers
(27 vessels), submarines (22 vessels), and support vessels for various tasks
(5 gunboats, 6 mine-layers and others). It should be noted that both dread
noughts — the Empress Catherine the Great (built in 191'O and Volya 0>uili
in 1915) — were modern, powerful ships weighing 23,000 tons, with a
speed o f 21 knots, and a crew o f 42 officers and 1,200 non-commissioned
officers and ratings. Their armament consisted o f twelve 12-inch guns, twen
ty 130-millimclrc and four 75-millimctrc guns, and 4 mine-laying devices.
The naval aviation consisted o f around 20 amphibious aircraft.
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