The War Party Attempts to Undermine U.S.-Russia Strategic Dialogue
In the aftermath of the provocation staged when the British naval vessel HMS Defender crossed into Russian territorial waters in the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea on June 23, there has been a back-and-forth between those responsible for the incident –British and American officials –and leading Russians, which demonstrates the fragility of the progress made by the Biden-Putin summit one week earlier. Disrupting the potential for opening a new strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Russia, as a result of the summit, is the obvious intent behind the British warship’s provocation (cf. SAS 25/21, 26/21).
The HMS Defender deliberately crossed a clear red line, despite the verbiage about an “innocent passage.” In fact, a spokesman for Prime Minister Johnson has admitted that the point was to show that the British do not accept the return of Crimea to Russia. In other words, they believe that Ukrainian President Zelensky’s stated intention that Ukraine will take back Crimea is justified. The day before the confrontation, British and Ukrainian defense officials signed an agreement on aid to upgrade Ukraine’s navy, including providing armaments and building two new ports. The agreement was signed on the HMS Defender!
This incident occurred in the midst of Europe Defender 21, the largest NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe in years, and Sea Breeze, a naval war game in the Black Sea involving nearly 30 countries.
Russian President Putin identified the HMS Defender’s passage as a “provocation”, which he said was “staged not only by the British, but also by the Americans,” noting that American reconnaissance aircraft were deployed in the area to observe what Russia’s “countermeasures to this sort of provocation might be.” But on the same day, June 30, Putin held out hope, in his annual dialogue with the Russian people, for “more favorable relations” with the U.S. “The world is changing dramatically,” he said, adding, “The period of the unipolar world is gone.”
Just two days prior to that, Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had signed an agreement to extend their “Friendship Agreement” for another five years. It calls for bilateral collaboration in economic, political and cultural affairs,
and also for mutual defense. According to the Russian report on the agreement, “In the context of increasing geopolitical turbulence, the dismantlement of arms-control agreements and increased potential for conflict in different corners of the world, Russian-Chinese coordination plays a stabilizing role in world affairs.”
As for the Strategic Stability Dialogue talks agreed to by Presidents Biden and Putin, both sides say these are “in preparation”, and will begin sometime in July. A note of caution about this was injected by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on July 4, who said it will not be “a dialogue of like-minded persons,” but more of “a dialogue of those who have absolutely opposite positions on a large number of issues.”
While Putin’s charge of U.S. involvement in the planning of the Black Sea incident is likely accurate, the most serious threat to peace is the continued adherence of American military and intelligence officials, who would be engaged in such planning, to British geopolitical doctrine. Until this aspect of the “Special Relationship” is broken, the danger remains that these kinds of provocations will lead to full scale war.