Ukraine: Back in the Company of Gog
Ukraine signs a deal that will allow Russia to keep its "many ships" in Ukranian ports.
Friday, April 23, 2010
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Over the past few years the Bible in the News has followed the tense relationship that has developed between Russia and the Ukraine. It would appear the bullying and blackmail tactics by Russia have paid off. This week saw a historic deal has been signed by the new president of the Ukraine Victor Yanukovych and Dimitri Medvedev. According to the Wall Street Journel for April 21, 2010:
Ukraine agreed Wednesday to extend the lease of Russia's Black Sea Fleet base in return for sharply lower natural-gas prices, a long-term trade-off that reasserts much of Moscow's influence over its former Soviet neighbor after years of tension.
The deal was the latest sign of Russia's determination to use its vast energy resources to restore dominance lost when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It will allow Russia to keep a strategic military presence beyond its borders until 2043, a quarter-century beyond the end of its current lease for the naval base on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
Ukraine, hit hard by the global economic downturn, received a waiver of export taxes that will knock as much as 30% off the price of Russian gas over the next nine years, avoiding disputes that have often led to midwinter gas cutoffs.
The Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych came into office two months ago. The previous president, Vicktor Yushchenko had tried to kick the fleet out of the Ukraine. Mr. Yanukovych, has abandoned his predecessor's goal of bringing Ukraine into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Mr. Medvedev said the fleet's continued presence would provide "a greater, better guarantee for European security in the Black Sea basin."
The base extension will have repercussions for other former Soviet republics. The fleet, consisting of about 40 combat vessels, provided maritime support for Russian ground forces during a brief war with Georgia in 2008 and sank a Georgian vessel carrying missile launchers.
The area of the Bosphorus has long been a coveted strategic location because it is the entrance from the Black Sea, where Russia’s Baltic Fleet resides, to the Mediterranean. It has been a source of dispute going back to the Roman and Byzantium Empires. During the First World War the unsuccessfully Gallipoli and Dardanelles campaigns were fought to open the Bosphorus to allow the Russian Navy to join the European conflict.
Commenting on this current Naval development in the Ukraine:
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was in the U.S. for a nuclear security summit, called Wednesday's moves further signs of an expansionist Moscow agenda. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, he said in an interview, "doesn't make any secret of trying to restore some kind of Soviet empire... Ukraine, more or less from their point of view, has been fixed."
"I hear lots of talk [in the U.S.] that the Cold War is over," he said. "It might be over for America, but certainly it's not over for Vladimir Putin."
The Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported this week that Russia has confirmed it plans to buy a French Mistral-class warship capable of carrying tanks and helicopters and conducting an amphibious landing. The idea is to purchase one warship and build several more under French contract in either Ukrainian or Russian ports.
This comes on the heels of the launch of the Russian corvette class ship at the end of March. This launch is part of the refitting of the Russian Navy which has plans to build up to 30 vessels of this class to protect its oil and gas transportation routes.
This isn’t the only source of Russian Naval expansion. RIA-Novosti reported of the Syrian port of Tartus last year:
The city hosts a Soviet-era naval supply and maintenance base, under a 1971 agreement with Syria, still staffed by Russian naval personnel. In particular, the Russian Navy's 5th Mediterranean Squadron has been using the base. It has been reported that Russia and Syria are conducting talks about permitting Russia to develop and enlarge the base in order to establish a stronger naval presence in the Mediterranean, and amidst the deteriorating Russia relations with the west in conjunction with the 2008 South Ossetia war and the plans to deploy US missile defense shield in Poland, it has been asserted that President Assad has agreed to Tartus port’s conversion into a permanent Middle East base for Russia’s nuclear-armed warships
On September 19, 2008, ten Russian warships docked in Tartus. The flotilla which has been moved to Tartus consists of the Moskva cruiser and four nuclear missile submarines. Upgrades of the port facilities are already under way. Since 1992 the port has been in disrepair with only one of its three floating piers remaining operational, but the facilities now are being restored.
Adding to this a new berthing float was moved to Tartus in July of 2009. RIA-Novosti reported,
"The base in Tartus will provide all necessary support for the Russian warships which will be engaged in protecting commercial shipping around the Horn of Africa," an official said.
According to the Russian Navy, the naval base in Syria significantly boosts Russia's operational capability in the region because the warships based there are capable of reaching the Red Sea through the Suez Canal and the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar in a matter of days.
The same article cited talks to establish a Russian naval base in Libya.
The Biblical significance of these events cannot be missed. The prophet Ezekiel in the 38th chapter clearly describes the invasion by the Russin host consisting of Rosh (Russia), Meshech (The Muscovites) and Tubal (Tubalsk) who will have a great company with them, armed to the teeth. Ezekiel writes in chapter 38:4:
And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
There are other nations associated with Russia, described as a great company in verses 5-7:
Persia (Iran), Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer (Europe), and all his bands; the house of Togarma h of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.
The great invasion is described as “ascending like a storm” and like a “cloud to cover the land”. The parallel passage in Daniel 11:40 describes this great storm as follows:
And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
Today we are seeing the rebuilding of the Russian Navy that will be involved in this great conflagration exactly as Ezekiel predicted it 2,600 years ago. The tactics Russia has been using with its vast oil and gas supplies are paying off and it is rebuilding, refitting and redeploying its Navy, clearing its way for the great invasion of the time of the end.
As Russia prepares, we too need to prepare ourselves for Christ’s return. Let us not be caught unawares – but be watching, waiting and ready to meet the Lord when he comes.
This has been Jonathan Bowen joining you for the Bible in the News.