The British Risk War with Russia to “Make a Point” in the Black Sea
In a military provocation which former British Ambassador Craig Murray described as “evidence of lunacy,” the HMS Defender, a British navy destroyer, entered Russian territorial waters in the Black Sea, near Cape Fiolent, at 11:52 AM on
June 23. The Russian Black Sea fleet immediately radioed a warning. After waiting approximately 15 minutes for a response, and receiving none, a Russian border patrol ship fired warning shots. Nine minutes later, bombs were dropped in the path of the ship, which then turned away.
While the Russians declared this a provocation, the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) first denied any shots had been fired, calling it an “innocent passage through the Ukraine waters.” A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson then defended the passage, declaring, “The UK does not recognize Russia’s claim to Crimea,” implying that the chosen path of the ship had not been so innocent.
Moreover, a BBC reporter on the ship, Jonathan Beale, confirmed that warning shots had been fired, adding that the destroyer’s mission was “a deliberate move to make a point to Russia.” And what was that point? According to an MOD source, it was to assert “its right to freedom of navigation in international waters.”
That this was a planned provocation was revealed by the amazing discovery a few days later of MOD documents at a bus stop in Kent. The documents detailed the planned passage chosen, and showed there was an expectation that Russia might respond “aggressively.” One can assume that this discovery was not accidental, but an attempt to probe the likely Russian military response to future provocations. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova mocked this discovery by quipping, “Why do we need ‘Russian hackers’ if there are British bus stops?”
But the Russians did not take this lightly, with warnings from various spokesmen, including top military leaders, that next time, the ships passing through Russian waters will be hit.
In remarks made a few hours before the incident began to the Russian International Security Conference, President Putin indicated that operations would likely be launched to undermine the small, but significant progress made during the Biden-Putin summit eight days earlier. He opened his speech by warning that “geopolitical processes are becoming increas ingly turbulent despite isolated positive signals. The erosion of international law continues as well.”
It should not be precluded that further “probes” will occur. On June 28, NATO launched its Sea Breeze 2021 naval exercises in the Black Sea, with more than 20 member countries plus Ukraine –which is not yet a member of the alliance. They are to continue until July 10. In his statement which condemned the “lunacy” of the HMS Defender incident, Ambassador Murray pointed to the obvious, that there is no cause for British warships to be cruising in the Black Sea: “The UK needs to lose its imperial ambitions,” he added.
In sum, last week’s provocation confirms that the “breathing room” created by the Geneva summit will disappear, unless the U.S. breaks definitively with British geopolitical imperial plans.