U.S. Strategy in Crimea – A Look 10 Years Back

Fact is that the Americans planned military bases in Crimea – the Russians prevented this.

René Zittlau


It is now almost 10 years ago that the alarm bells at the Russian FSB probably took on a new timbre. I don’t suppose that they were very surprised, rather they might have felt confirmed in their assessment of their “partners” overseas. And the publication, which now set the alarm bells ringing a bit more frantically, may well have contributed its share to the developments of 2014.

What we are writing about here in itself confirms all critics of U.S. policy in the assumption that it is very advisable to start from the most negative scenario when assessing the intentions of U.S. policy.

The Americans wanted to build in the Crimea – not schools and hospitals

The Naval Engineering Facilities Command (NAVFAC) is a Pentagon structural unit with billions of dollars in annual turnover. It is responsible for the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of U.S. Navy coastal facilities around the world.

In April 2014, then-Prime Minister and current head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, informed the public in a Twitter message about planned construction in Crimea funded by the Pentagon. This message achieved nowhere near the circulation and attention in the West that it deserved. A public discussion could have easily shaken well-formulated propaganda narratives that had been placed in the media for years, or at least triggered thoughtfulness.

At that time in April 2014, other headlines dominated the media of the Western world. It was the time of the Maidan, in the wake of which Ukraine launched its war against its own population in the east of the country, dressed up as an anti-terror operation. It was the time when Russia took control of Crimea.

For observers who tried to look at the puzzle as a whole, however, it was clear even then that the events mentioned were mutually dependent. At that time, it was still possible for the FAZ to give a Reinhard Merkel, professor of criminal law and legal philosophy at the University of Hamburg, great space to controversially explain annexation and secession using precisely this example of Crimea in his article “Cool Irony of History“. Admittedly, this should also be said without mentioning his title and thus deliberately limiting the effect of his words.

So, in that time we have to place the news made public by Sergei Aksyonov.

On September 5, 2013, the following tender was published on the website of the above-mentioned NAVFAC under the registration number N33191-13-R-1240:

The document is a tender for the reconstruction of School No. 5 in Sevastopol, as a US naval base. A US base practically door to door with the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Bids were due by the end of October 2013. The tender deadline was less than two months.

According to the 124 pages of the bid specifications, the contracted company was to renovate the roof over the middle wing of the school, repair and remodel some rooms, window openings, facades, locker rooms and shower rooms. The description makes it look like an ordinary school renovation.

The U.S. Naval Engineering and Construction Command is listed as the contractor in the RFP. According to the NAVFAC website, it designs, builds and maintains facilities and infrastructure for various U.S. Navy units.

Another interesting detail from the RFP:

“All work must be completed within 330 calendar days after award of contract.”

In September 2013, the Pentagon published a tender for the conversion of a school in Sevastopol into a US Marine Corps facility. End of the tender: October 21, 2013. After awarding the contract, the work was to be completed within a year.  

Then, on April 15, 2014, the tender was cancelled “due to the current situation in Ukraine.”

Tenders of this kind are often accompanied by parallel construction work in the civilian sector by the Pentagon; the image is important to the Americans. This is also the case here. On December 12, the Pentagon published tender N33191-14-R-0601.

It states:

“The works include the reconstruction of the neonatal and infectious diseases departments at the Republican Children’s Hospital in Simferopol. The estimated construction cost is between $250,000 and $500,000. The contractor should complete all works within 360 calendar days of contract award.”

This tender was also closed on April 14, 2014, due to the “change in the situation.”

Crimea’s accession to Russia had put paid to all U.S. plans on the peninsula.

How important Crimea was to the U.S. is shown by further publications about the planned U.S. military presence on this peninsula:

It was clear to the USA from the very beginning that in case of stationing its fleet in Sevastopol, the ship units were only allowed to be on site on a rotating basis, not longer than 21 days, on the basis of the Treaty of Montreux of 1936. This is because the USA is not a littoral state.

However, this treaty does not apply to army and air forces. Thus, the U.S. sought to use the Belbek military airfield for the needs of forward air forces, which include spy planes as well as bombers and fighters.

An underground submarine base at Sevastopol, which had been decommissioned by Russia, was also to be reactivated. Control of Black Sea waters was cited as the purpose. In addition, the Ukrainian submarines that were planned to be stationed there were to be operated by American or European personnel.  

All these projects were about organizing control over the Black Sea in general and Russia’s Black Sea fleet in particular. To this end, U.S. missiles were also to be installed in the bunkers of the Sotka facilities. The Sotka object was one of the USSR’s highly secret objects for coastal defense. The U.S. intended to station missiles that could be used to control shipping and engage surface targets, as well as prevent enemy landing forces from reaching the coast.

Militärflugplätze rund um Sewastopol

And the dreams went even further.

Near Old Crimea and Feodosia, on Mount Kiziotash, the USSR had stationed nuclear bombs and warheads in a nuclear bunker. Several bombs were also sent to Cuba from here during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The United States planned to establish a forward operating base at this facility, which had been decommissioned by the USSR.

“To understand the present, you have to know the history.”

In addition to the sites mentioned above, the U.S. planned to establish a training area for NATO military forces in Feodosia in eastern Crimea. The U.S. wanted to do this as early as 2006, but was forced to abandon the plans by the local population at the time. Later, this plan was at least partially realized. This is where the only battles between Russian special forces and Ukrainian units took place during Russia’s takeover of Crimea. NATO forces are also said to have taken part in this.

It can be assumed that the aforementioned plans represent only part of the actual U.S. presence envisioned. But this information alone proves what to make of the repeatedly loudly proclaimed statements that the 2013-14 Maidan was a purely internal Ukrainian affair and that any plans for military use of Crimea were completely out of the air and thus could not have played any role in the planning and execution of the Maidan …


Crimea is not just a tourist gem. It is the thorn in the flesh when it comes to strategic control of the Black Sea as well as the littoral states and thus possesses paramount military importance.

Last but not least, this military truism is also confirmed by the desperate attempts of Ukraine and its NATO allies to create access to Crimea at any cost in order to use it for a conquest of the peninsula.  

To understand the present, one must know history.

U.S. Strategy in Crimea – A Look 10 Years Back

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