TAGANROG- The commander of the Russian coast guard vessel that was involved in the 25 November attack on three Ukrainian naval ships in international waters told reporters that he had to ram one of the Ukrainian vessels because he observed “threatening behavior” from one of its crew.
“As we approached the Ukrainian vessel, which to my mind looked suspiciously out of place at that hour, I suddenly saw one of the Ukrainian sailors on deck appeared to be reaching for his waistband,” the Russian officer said.
At that point, he said he “feared for his life” and gave the order to ram the ship, which led to the subsequent attack on all three Ukrainian vessels and their capture along with their crews.
Russian military expert Gregory Sellers explained what he believes is the reasoning behind this new narrative.
“You have to understand that the Kremlin, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the state media channels- they all watch us and design their tactics accordingly based on what looks like it works over here.”
According to Sellers, Russian authorities may have started appropriating the language and defensive strategies of American police departments after shootings involving unarmed civilians.
“They look at American society and they see how police seem to routinely get away with murder by publicly claiming to be cowards who demand total obedience and deference at all times or else they will respond with deadly force,” Sellers said.
“If police officers in the US can get away with fatally shooting an unarmed black man talking on his phone while on his own property, they assume they could get away with using lethal force against Ukrainian ships in international waters.”
There has been some evidence that the approach may be convincing to some. Hours after the Russian coast guard officer gave his explanation of the event, some NATO officials and diplomats seemed to rethink their earlier condemnations and give the Russians the benefit of the doubt.
“If the Ukrainian sailors on the tugboat had just done what the Russians told them, none of this would have happened,” said Colonel Kurt Reinhard, a German representative to NATO.
“Let’s face it, these coast guard sailors have to make split-second life-or-death decisions on a daily basis,” said Maria Corelli, an Italian Member of the European Parliament.
“Let’s not forget the Russian boats were also damaged in the attack,” said one State Department spokesperson. “Boats damage each other all the time. Don’t all watercraft matter?”
“The media never talks about all the Ukrainian-on-Ukrainian violence,” said a Dutch diplomat.
After the Russian officer’s report was published, Russia’s Investigative Committee examined the account as well as videos of the incident, and concluded that the captain had acted appropriately and had not committed any infractions.
“All available evidence conclusively proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Captain (NAME REDACTED) acted in full compliance with all relevant regulations and only resorted to force after observing a credible threat which made him reasonably fear for his own life and that of his crew,” the final report reads.
“The Ukrainian crew failed to promptly comply with instructions and one of them made a hostile movement by lowering his hand to his waist, leading Captain (NAME REDACTED) to believe that the Ukrainian was potentially reaching for a weapon.”
The captain and his crew have already been recommended to receive state rewards for their actions that day.