Home Nonmilitary action UK plans naval intervention against Russia in Black Sea

UK plans naval intervention against Russia in Black Sea

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Britain is once again at the forefront of NATO’s escalating war with Russia over Ukraine. Monday the Time reported, “Britain is in talks with allies about sending warships to the Black Sea to protect freighters carrying Ukrainian grain.”

Foreign Minister Liz Truss discussed the plans with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. He explained that the participating countries “could provide ships or planes that would be stationed in the Black Sea and ensure the maritime passage of grain ships to leave the port of Odessa and reach the Bosphorus in Turkey”.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, right, is greeted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, January 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys, Pool)

Landsbergis said of Britain’s response to this proposal: “From my point of view, the British government is interested in helping Ukraine in any way possible.

A diplomatic source confirmed that Truss is in favor once practical arrangements are agreed, including “demining the port and supplying Ukraine with longer-range weapons to defend the port against Russian attacks”, according to Guardian.

These plans are already in motion. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced on Monday that Washington would supply Ukraine with Harpoon anti-ship missiles, through an agreement with Denmark. the Daily Mail reports that “a handful” of countries are willing to do the same, according to US officials and congressional sources.

Earlier this month, former senior NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis wrote for Bloombergon May 6, “It is worth considering an escort system for Ukrainian (and other national) merchant ships that want to enter and leave Odessa… The vast Black Sea is mostly international waters. NATO warships are free to move almost anywhere they want, including within Ukraine’s territorial waters and its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Conceding these waters to Russia makes no sense. Instead, expect them to become the next major front in the war in Ukraine.

The Lithuanian Foreign Minister said: “It would be a non-military humanitarian mission and is not comparable to a no-fly zone… We would need a coalition of willing countries, with a significant naval power to protect shipping lanes, and of countries affected by them”.

The “coalition of the willing” is the wording used to describe the imperialist-led alliance that carried out the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. A NATO-led naval intervention would be a military provocation deliberate, designed to create a pretext for a direct confrontation with Russian forces, carried out under the guise of a “humanitarian mission” to avert a global hunger crisis on which the imperialist powers do not lose a blink of an eye.

Strategic analysts have been more honest about what’s involved. Sidharth Kaushal of the Royal United Services Institute’s military think tank told the FinancialTimes“To maintain a functioning convoy system, one would have to have a huge Western fleet stationed in the Mediterranean to circle across the Black Sea” and risk “an escalating confrontation with Russian warships.”

On May 17, NATO launched a “vigilance activity”, Neptune Shield, involving 19 nations and centered on the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group in the Mediterranean. The strike group includes the Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, the USS San Jacinto cruiser, five American destroyers and a Norwegian frigate.

The Eastern Mediterranean is permanently home to NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2, made up of 14 ships including 10 frigates and the HMS Diamond destructive.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba belligerently announced that war plans were being discussed behind the scenes, saying of the Russian presence in the Black Sea that there was “a military solution to this: defeat Russia”. . He continued: “If we receive even more military support, we can push them back…defeat the Black Sea Fleet and unblock the passage of ships.

A defense adviser explained to the FT the aggressive operations being considered, noting that “Russian diesel-powered submarines also have to resurface regularly, making them vulnerable to attack” and adding: “Destroy the Kerch Strait Bridge that Russia uses to supply Crimea could also leave Putin’s forces struggling with the same kinds of logistical problems they have faced elsewhere.

The incendiary nature of the plans under discussion arouses nervous reactions. Kaushal asks, “How many countries would want to risk their ships clashing with the Russian Navy? the Daily Mail quotes a US official who “said that no nation wanted to be the first or only nation to send harpoons, fearing retaliation from Russia if a ship was sunk with a harpoon from their stock”. the The telegraph of the day cites Foreign Office sources as saying “current talks do not extend ‘to the use of warships’ to help unblock ports in the war-torn country.”

But the trajectory of the NATO-Russia conflict is towards such clashes. Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College London, writes in the new statesman, “Until now, the view has been that this would be an unduly provocative move, subject to the same apprehensions that led NATO to reject calls for a ‘no-fly zone’ over Ukraine.” But the Russian naval operation is an “aspect of this war…which is now in the spotlight, where the pressure could mount for a NATO operation.” If the war “goes on forever, it’s a problem that won’t go away… The great naval powers must anticipate”.

A NATO offensive in the Black Sea has been in the works for a long time, with the UK playing a leading role.

In June 2021, NATO conducted its largest-ever operation in the region, Sea Breeze, involving 32 countries, 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft and 18 special operations. The exercise was jointly organized by the U.S. and Ukrainian navies and directly targeted Russia, with the NATO statement announcing the operation reading: “NATO supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. NATO does not and will not recognize the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea by Russia and denounces its temporary occupation.

Just days before the start of Sea Breeze 2021, the British destroyer HMS Defender engaged in a major provocation by entering Russian-claimed waters off Crimea. The Russian armed forces fired warning shots and dropped a bomb in the warship’s path, later threatening that if something similar happened again they might bomb “on target”.

The Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender leaves Portsmouth Harbor Naval Base for exercises in Scotland, ahead of its deployment to the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Indo-Pacific region as part of Carrier Strike Group 21 from the United Kingdom. May 1, 2021 (WSWS Media)

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the British ship was acting in coordination with an American reconnaissance aircraft, “trying to find out the actions of our armed forces to stop a provocation”.

The region has clearly been largely prepared as a theater of combat with Russia. American media reported that the United States was critically involved in the Ukrainian strike that sank the Russian flagship the Moscow April 14.

That these measures are now being taken under the banner of alleviating a world hunger crisis is preposterous hypocrisy. This was underlined by former British Foreign Secretary and leader of the Conservative Party, William Hague, in an opinion piece for the Time Tuesday, “Putin’s next move? A truce to divide the West”.

The Hague is urging NATO powers not to accept any Russian offers for peace talks, explicitly deriding calls to do so to avoid another catastrophic escalation in war or rising global prices.

“Ideally for you,” Hague writes of Putin, “Western commentators will say, ‘Hooray, we always knew he wanted an exit ramp’ and ‘All wars end by mutual agreement’ and discuss of how the cost of living crisis could be helped by your very generous offer to renounce the war you started. This is unacceptable to The Hague. What matters is not peace or hunger, but the pursuit of NATO’s war aims.