Black Ops in the Black Sea 154


Sometimes it is worth stating the obvious. The United Kingdom does not have a coast in the Black Sea. British warships are not infesting the Black Sea out of a peaceful intent, and there is no cause for them to be entering disputed waters close to anybody’s coast. This is not a question of freedom of navigation under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. There is nowhere that a British warship can be heading from the UK under the right of innocent passage that would require it to pass through coastal waters by Crimea. The Black Sea is famously a cul-de-sac.

There is certainly a right to pass to the Ukrainian port of Odessa – but that in now way requires passing close to Crimea. This is therefore not “innocent passage”. There is a right of passage through the Kerch strait, which Russia has to date respected. Russia has not just a right but a duty to enforce sea lanes for safe navigation through the strait, exactly as the UK does off Dover.

I expect we will now be in for a mad frenzy of Russophobia, yet again. I shall comment further once I have more details of why and exactly where Russia was firing warning shots. But just remember this, it was not Russian warships near the British coast, it was British warships in an area where they had no business other than ludicrous, British nationalist, sabre-rattling.

The UK needs to lose its imperial delusions. Sending gunboats to the Crimea is as mad as – well, sailing an aircraft carrier expressly to threaten the Chinese. There are those who see this activity as evidence of the UK’s continued great power status. I see it as evidence of lunacy.

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154 thoughts on “Black Ops in the Black Sea

1 2
  • AAMVN

    Indeed. The UK behaves like is it 1821 – not 2021…

    While China is a problem, how much good showing them what a ‘real’ aircraft carrier looks like will do I cannot imagine.

    I can see the East Sea [as we in VN have to call it] from my house – to paraphrase a former US candidate for VP…so I guess I know what I’m talking about…

      • geoff

        Lets not pretend China isn’t Imperialist, is pro-democracy, pro-human rights, pro-free speech

        Apple Daily, the pro-democracy Hong Kong tabloid founded by media tycoon Jimmy Lai, will close after its assets were frozen and its journalists were arrested, delivering a blow to the city’s free press.

        And I am by no means pretending the UK has any high moral standing

        • Piotr+Berman

          KSA is as imperialist as it can be, propping deeply unpopular monarch in Bahrein, bullying Qatar, invading and bombing Yemen. Human rights are advancing by leaps in bounds in the Kingdom, females are allowed to drive: the only country I can think of where they gained this right in 21 century. Yet, it is a “strategic partner”, “our dearest customer” etc.

          In what sense the increasingly coordinated West cares about democracy, human rights and free speech?

          How to draw a connection between “democracy and all such” and the provocations in the Black Sea and elsewhere?

          • Photios

            Women were allowed to drive in Iraq when Saddam was around.
            They could also drive in Libya when Gaddaffi was in charge.
            I can’t speak to that in either case now, however…

        • Doctor K

          You forgot to bring Xinjiang into the discussion.
          Ten years ago I was saying that China was becoming more like Hong Kong, but of course the reverse is now true.
          Very sad but quite understandable.
          China is faced with aggression by the west driven by the US on all sides. How do you expect them to respond?

          • geoff

            There are clear steps towards war – I think we both agree to that. The US has ring fenced China since the 1940’s, and it’s not about to give that away anytime soon.
            The CCP reforming and becoming liberal for one would help me not think these 2 super powers would not be heading for war. After all they became Capitalists.

          • Stevie Boy

            Geoff.
            Please explain why the CCP should ‘reform’ and become ‘liberal’.
            Time for the west and all its associated f*ckwits to butt out and mind their own business, I would suggest.
            Don’t want China telling me how to live my life, and they don’t ! Similarly don’t want the west dictating to China, but they do.
            I would suggest Jimmy Lai and all the other CIA assets either shut up or pack their bags and f*ck off to the west, see how the rich, yellow men get treated there.

        • Bayard

          “Lets not pretend China isn’t Imperialist, is pro-democracy, pro-human rights, pro-free speech”

          Why should they be? All three of those are concepts that we in the West, with our Graeco-Judeao- Christian philosophical heritage have dreamt up and decided are Good Things. China doesn’t share that heritage, so has obviously come to different conclusions.

          • Susan

            Paleez – surely no-one on this blog thinks our Western Masters believe that ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’, and ‘free speech’ are “Good Things”. They certainly don’t apply to us, and if anyone thinks they do, they are deluded.

            Sure, our Masters pay lip service to these “Good Things” – but that’s only for propaganda (nefarious) purposes:

            1. To be used to attack countries that don’t submit to Western domination.
            2. To be used to brainwash us into supporting their wars of aggression (for global domination).

            These “Good Things” are certainly NOT for our benefit.

          • Bayard

            Susan, a Good Thing is not necessarily a good thing. Your comment demonstrates the difference.

        • DunGroanin

          “ Lets not pretend China isn’t Imperialist, is pro-democracy, pro-human rights, pro-free speech”

          Absolute textbook PROJECTION.

          Plenty of old skool mass psychological warfare underway I see.

    • Tom Welsh

      “While China is a problem, how much good showing them what a ‘real’ aircraft carrier looks like will do I cannot imagine”.

      When Japan was seen as a “problem” in 1941, Winston Churchill decided to teach them a lesson. Accordingly, he sent two powerful British capital ships – the new battleship “Prince of Wales” and the elderly battlecruiser “Repulse” – to Singapore. That would set back those wily but backward Orientals! It was well known in Britain and the USA that the Japanese would be hopeless at modern warfare: they were too short to fight, and too short-sighted to fly.

      Unfortunately the Japanese knew nothing of those handicaps, and within 24 hours of detecting the British ships they had sunk both of them with contemptuous ease by air attack.

      • Brendan

        A Former Naval Person sent them out without air cover.
        I suspect his grasp of sea power was stuck at Trafalgar.

    • Jaggy.blog

      Returning the focus to the highly topical issue raised by Craig in this post – rampant Russophobia in London. Sadly, from a Scottish perspective, no one is more guilty of fuelling a New Cold War than the SNP’s defence spokesperson. To find out more about Stewart McDonald and his relentless campaign for Ukrainian (not Scottish) independence, read this:
      https://jaggy.blog/2021/06/24/clydesides-new-cold-warrior/

  • S

    Thank you for your explanation of this strange event.

    Since you understand diplomacy and maritime business, I would also be interested to know whether you understand what the point of the proposed UK superyacht is.

    It seems entirely pointless to me. A few commenters on the Daily Mail website like the idea, but there’s also plenty of opposition to it on there, so it doesn’t seem a major vote winner. And I imagine that Johnson and co will be long gone before it is brought into action.

    Perhaps there is a sense in some circles that we need to shift to a culture where the UK elite tend to get looked after a bit more by the taxpayer?

    Is there any reason for it?

      • S

        Thanks! At first I thought it was just about making busy work for journalists, but now it seems to be actually happening.

      • Shatnersrug

        This gunboat business always seems to happen right before an election, so I’m inclined to believe the daily Mail just make this shit up

      • Jeff

        I can’t wait for work to start on the ‘union tunnel’ to Northern Ireland…. (LOL)

      • DunGroanin

        Lot of friggin in these riggings from the various yarns of Dicky and young Phil and sailors I understand… maybe somewhere for Randy Andy to spend his exile days ..

      • Tom Welsh

        Exactly! Since the USA considers itself the owner and ruler of the entire world, its coastguard service has a LOT of coasts to guard.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Speaking of war and peace or the likelihood of one or t’other I noted in my morning rounds on the internet that the Iranian news channel – press TV – has been outed by the US government.

    This does not auger well for peace between the two countries and most likely will negatively impact the on-going nuclear talks.

    • S

      Oh, I see, they have seized the .com domains. I would have thought you would need very strong grounds to seize .com domains, otherwise you’re going to have to decide whether every single .com domain is a bit shady or not.

      • Courtenay Barnett

        S

        Seems to me at an early glance:~

        1. Not really a question about being “a bit shady or not or not” being.
        2. If one reads/watches the international news then FOX, BBC, CNN and many other international news agencies could equally be assessed as being biased, state agencies mouthpieces, engagement in misinformation ( sorry – did someone say FOX NEWS?)
        3. With the JCPOA being active – does this really add up to being co-operative in international relations to arrive at an agreement?

        Oh boy – who ever said that the world was ever fair, balanced and/or sensible?

      • Shatnersrug

        That’s really dumb. It’s so easy to redirect a .com that I’m surprised Presstv haven’t just done it

        • Dawg

          Go on, then, tell us just how easy it is …

          If you think it’s just a matter of modifying the A record or the CNAME with the commercial domain name registrar, you’re being naïve. The US government didn’t just hack PressTV’s web domain account. They took the unprecedented step of interrupting the ICANN DNS system that directs any traffic to the PressTV servers, even via direct IP numbers. It’s a huge violation of net neutrality and international sovereignty, with potentially serious legal consequences.

  • Jimmeh

    The Eastern Med is also a cul-de-sac. But Russia sails warships along the coast (not disputed waters, though).

    And Britain has interests at the Eastern end of the Black Sea; while Georgia is not a member of NATO, it is entangled with NATO in several ways, and would like to be a NATO member. According to Wikipedia, we have mutual diplomatic missions, and extensive investments in the Georgian economy. So we have reasons for sailing warships into the Black Sea, and we have the right in maritime law (TTBOMK; you know much more about that than I do, Craig).

    Is it true that a British warship has sailed into disputed waters in the Black Sea? I’m not aware of disputed waters there, except perhaps territorial waters around the Crimea. But even the Azov Sea isn’t “disputed”, according to Russia – they claim that their restrictions on navigation in those parts is just to prevent collisions with their bridge (I don’t believe that at all).

    The Chinese are all over the South China Sea, which *is* disputed waters. They aren’t just sailing by; they’re building military bases on disputed atolls. That’s a perfectly adequate reason for sending a warship to the SCS. But I think it’s nuts – we have no interests in the SCS.

    Oh – Gibraltar is disputed territory. That means the waters around Gibraltar are also disputed waters.

    Whether these actions are insane brinkmanship is another question.

    The Royal Navy seems to have our defence budget by the throat, with huge numbers of billions spent on nuclear subs and giant aircraft carriers. As far as I’m aware, the carrier group we sent to the SCS consists of a carrier, and, err, exactly one destroyer (we probably sent a sub too). Considering that’s our only active carrier, that seems an awfully small “group”. And the carrier’s complement of aircraft is incomplete; the thing isn’t even properly armed.

    Meanwhile, we have no fisheries protection vessels. That seems to be a bit of a problem, since we now face conflict with EU fishermen.

    • Stevie Boy

      No conflict Jimmeh. Bozo has sold the fishermen down the river, where they are soon to be joined by the farmers and the remnants of the NHS. Bozo’s Brexit: the great sell off.

    • Long

      Jimmeh, you should check a map. Easter Med is not a cul de sac. There is no physical way for a russian ship to go from the Black sea to the russian naval base in Tartus or to Suez without passing through Easter Med.

  • Jan

    It was near Crimea, which is Ukrainian territory, not Russian, so Russia had no business whatsoever confronting any ships there.

    • Carl

      You’re out of touch with reality in Crimea, although probably not as much as Bozo who seems to think Britain is still the power it was at the time of the Crimean War.

    • Bruce H

      In reply to Jan;

      Crimea became part of Russia (again) after a referendum which showed that a vast majority of the population desired this – given the way things are in Ukraine this is not surprising, but are you suggesting that a referendum in a country doesn’t legitimise a change of the sovereignty of that country? Would you apply the same rule to Scotland, for example?

    • Ralph

      Jan, you’re either ignorant, or stupid, which is it?: ukraine is – at best – a colony of the usa, consequently when it follows orders from its master it has NO legitimacy, got it?
      People in Crimea VOTED to rejoin Russia, as is their democratic right, therefore, Crimea is Russian. QED.

    • Tom Welsh

      Do you mean the Ukraine (“the borderlands”), which no one had ever alleged to be an independent nation until the coup d’etat of 1991?

      If a bunch of politicians on the make could assemble in Kiev and declare the Ukraine “a nation”, why should the entire people of Crimea not vote for it to become part of Russia again? (If indeed it was ever legally separate, which is doubtful).

    • Walter Cairns

      The alarm bells started to ring with the Russian majority in Crimea once the western-supported fascists came to power in Kiev and started making Kristallnacht-like noises about persecuting ethnic Russians – which they have done even since in the Donbass area. Hardly suprising they voted to return to Russia.

    • michael norton

      The U.S.A. Air Force will this month start awarding contracts for construction work to upgrade the Campia Turzii base, enabling it to support heavy cargo aircraft and host fighter jets, boosting NATO’s capacities in the Black Sea area.

      “We are getting ready to award four projects for construction between May and August 2021″

      Well that would seem to be a direct threat to Russia.

      • Tom Welsh

        Yes, Michael, it is very much a direct threat to Russia. Which, if attacked, will undoubtedly turn Romania and any other nations involved into large barbecues.

        The American and British politicians seem blissfully aware that Russians do not bluster or threaten; they simply retaliate when necessary.

        That is probably the greatest reason we have to fear for our lives.

  • Carl

    Yes, a dangerous lunacy supported by all major British political parties and mass media, including in Scotland. Corbyn’s lonely plea for sanity and humanity to characterise Britain’s relations with the world saw him driven from public life as a hateful lunatic.

    The tragicomical aspect is that the British army had to have its chestnuts pulled out of the fire in both Basra and Helmand, after boasting to the yanks that they were the world’s preeminent counterinsurgency force. That was what happened when confronted with a ragtag of fellas in sandals and before more than a decade of austerity cuts to the MoD.

    How do people like Tom Tugendhat and Sir Keir imagine the world’s greatest armed forces (TM) would fare if they ever had their bluff called by the red army or the PLA?

    • Stevie Boy

      A carrier with no support craft and few planes.
      Planes with so many faults they still haven’t been signed off and are a serious danger to their pilots.
      Destroyers that all need engine refits with most of them ‘parked up’.
      And let’s not forget the embarrassment of a Royal Navy crew that was ‘captured’ by Iranian inflatables and wimpered when their phones were confiscated. Nelson must be spinning like a top. ‘Hearts of Oak’, I think not.
      More stuff the Tories touched, which all turned to sh*te.

      • Chris

        “A carrier with no support craft and few planes”

        …or ‘floating target’, as it’s commonly known.

    • Ron Soak

      “That was what happened when confronted with a ragtag of fellas in sandals ”

      Quite. The more things change the more things stay the same.

      Here’s Kipling writing about the same thing in a previous era:

      Arithmetic on the Frontier

      A great and glorious thing it is
           To learn, for seven years or so,
      The Lord knows what of that and this,
           Ere reckoned fit to face the foe —
      The flying bullet down the Pass,
      That whistles clear: “All flesh is grass.”

      Three hundred pounds per annum spent
           On making brain and body meeter
      For all the murderous intent
           Comprised in “villanous saltpetre!”
      And after — ask the Yusufzaies
      What comes of all our ‘ologies.

      A scrimmage in a Border Station —
           A canter down some dark defile —
      Two thousand pounds of education
        Drops to a ten-rupee jezail —
      The Crammer’s boast, the Squadron’s pride,
      Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

      No proposition Euclid wrote,
           No formulae the text-books know,
      Will turn the bullet from your coat,
           Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow
      Strike hard who cares — shoot straight who can —
      The odds are on the cheaper man.

      One sword-knot stolen from the camp
           Will pay for all the school expenses
      Of any Kurrum Valley scamp
           Who knows no word of moods and tenses,
      But, being blessed with perfect sight,
      Picks off our messmates left and right.

      With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem,
           The troopships bring us one by one,
      At vast expense of time and steam,
           To slay Afridis where they run.
      The “captives of our bow and spear”
      Are cheap, alas! as we are dear.

  • Antonym

    Some lapdogs dare to sniff bull dog poop.
    Some show-off poodles even fetch balls far away for their owners: London is a good doggie for dodgy Langley.
    Might get some crumbs, in the form of photo ops for the ever visible or gadgets for the never visible who run the show.

    • DunGroanin

      Both just the praetorians of the Ancient Bankers and their international Slaving Drug Running setups starting with the Dutch and English.

      They didn’t call it the COMPANY for a laugh.

  • Michael Droy

    The Kerch strait is shallow and the Russian authorities only allow up to 8m, and then during daylight with a Russian supplied pilot steering. HMS Defender (oxymoron) has a draft of 7.4m. This was true before Crimea’s referendum to join Russia (about as much an annexation as Craig’s hoped for annexation by the EU of Scotland).
    I have no idea what HMS Defender was up to. But even if they asked nicely there was no way they intended to go through the strait to Ukraine.

    • Jimmeh

      I’ve not seen a report that they were going through the Kerch Strait. The Russians claimed that the UK ship was in territorial waters, near Crimea. Sure, the Azov Sea (beyond the Kerch Strait) is “off Crimea”, but I’m not aware that this ship tried to run through the Kerch Strait without a Russian escort.

      Whether Crimea is part of Ukraine or Russia, the fact is that Russia has their main Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol in the Crimea. So this is the equivalent of a Russian warship patrolling in territorial waters just off Portsmouth; it might be legal, but it won’t be tolerated.

    • Piotr+Berman

      According to Russian videos, the passage took place near the western-most shore of Crimea, while Kerch strait is at the eastern extremity. There are similarities and differences between the status of Chagos and Crimea. There are reasonable legal arguments against the current de-facto control, this is the similarity. The views of the inhabitants concerning the current de-facto control could not be more different, and so is their fate.

    • Yuri K

      Apparently, HMS Defender was on her way to Georgia, another NATO’s client state.

  • Kempe

    HMS Defender, odd how one ship can ‘infest’ a 168,500 square mile sea, was transiting from Odessa to Georgia using a recognised sea lane that passes close to the southern tip of Crimea. It had as much right to be there as Russian ships do to pass through the English Channel.

    It would appear that, sensibly, no shots were fired at the ship nor bombs dropped.

    • Jo

      Big ooops…its a total snafu as Russia said, a provocation. If going to Georgia….take the long way round. It all may be to get USA to release 150m dollar arms supply that is currently held back as a sign of good faith to Russia of an “interest” in stability….obviously not. Amazingly this happened after Lavrov spoke to dimwit Raab clearly warning of consequences….as UK confirmed a build warships and naval bases in Ukraine deal yesterday. Probably heavily subsidised with UK taxpayers money….loans….guarantees etc. Very very stupid for UK to continue to blindly support big time loser absolutely corrupt Ukraine that even Biden is having second thoughts about. Ben Wallace et al needs to get a reality check asap and go.

      • Jo

        Don’t know how first line got there. Apologies for typos. Think it can be understood.

      • SA

        Jo
        What makes you think that the taxpayer necessarily foots the bill? To my knowledge, sponsorship is now how these things operate. For example did you know that ‘our’ naval base in Bahrain is not paid for by the taxpayer but by the democracy loving Bahraini government?

  • David

    Just more Russian Propaganda. No warning shots fired at RN no bombs dropped near RN vessel. RN well aware of the live fire exercise planned by Russia in international waters.

    Nothing to see here.

    • Wikikettle

      US ship was supposedly incapacitated by Russian electronic countermeasures. We might be there to show our mates how we can handle Russian ECM ?! Boys with their expensive toys. I have a sinking feeling coming along.

      • Kempe

        Yes you wonder why they didn’t try the same thing again. Except of course that it never happened. Even the manufacturers of the Russian kit admitted it wasn’t possible and that the aircraft involved in the USS Cook incident weren’t fitted with it anyway.

        Doesn’t stop people believing it though. Never let facts stand in the way of a good conspiracy theory.

      • Tom Welsh

        ” I have a sinking feeling coming along”.

        Just as I am sure everyone on board HMS “Defender” did. Parading within two miles of one of the most devastating arrays of anti-ship missiles to be found anywhere in the world.

        They must have felt like a clown thumbing his nose and giving the bird to some hard-faced characters with shotguns standing a few feet away.

    • mark golding

      A BBC correspondent onboard HMS Defender has said warning shots were indeed fired at a distance. Fuckwit! Western propaganda has progressed to indocrination, the milking of human kindness.

      Control of the media gives control of the narrative, and control of the public psyche.

      • Kempe

        Shots were fired in the distance and the Russians were having a live exercise. Not much use firing warning shots at a great distance.

      • TP

        Is there any known reason why a BBC correspondent was onboard this particular ship? Are they to be found on most ships, or was this one chosen and for reason?

        • bevin

          That is the real question. And the answer is evident enough: the security services who run the defence department needed a tamed journalist in order to ensure that the approved story of the planned provocation was all over the media. The wonder is that there was not a BBC ‘reporter’ on the Ryanair flight to Minsk.
          Crimea has never been part of the Ukraine, whose historical existence as an independent state is very problematic. Krushchev, transferred Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR in order to bolster its claim to a vote in the UN and treatment as a discrete member of international bodies. At the time the USSR was constantly outvoted by states which were clearly puppets of the United States.
          Which leads us to the role of the RN as a surrogate for US imperialist aggression…

      • Tom Welsh

        The warning shots were fired (and bombs dropped) after the British warship rudely and foolishly failed even to acknowledge repeated radio warnings.

        The shots and bombs were not part of an exercise. They were directed specifically to persuade the British ship to remove itself.

  • DaveyTee

    It seems clear that the UK was deliberately trying to make a point to Russia about the waters still being Ukranian. I don’t think it was entirely co-incidental that a BBC correspondent was on board HMS Defender at the time and that the ship had been placed on action stations with all weapons systems loaded prior to entering Crimean waters.. Not that any of it has made any appreciable difference to the great scheme of things.

    • Tom Welsh

      Whether or not weapon systems were loaded would not have made much difference as the ship sank through the waters of the Black Sea and came to rest gently on the bottom.

      Rather like nocking an arrow to your bow at the approach of an armoured helicopter gunship.

      • Bayard

        Although a Spanish goatherd did manage to bring down a military helicopter with a sling shot.

    • Justin Glyn

      Well, it does make a difference in that it rather destroys the “innocent passage” argument. Art. 19(2) of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 specifically says that for passage to be “innocent” it must not involve:

      (a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

      (b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

      (c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;

      (d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;

      (l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.

  • Jimmeh

    Here’s another version of the story:
    https://news.usni.org/2021/06/21/positions-of-two-nato-ships-were-falsified-near-russian-black-sea-naval-base

    “USNI” is the US Naval Institute, so this can’t be considered a neutral report.

    It seems the ships were in harbour at Odessa (Ukraine; definitely not Russia). Then, according to this story, tracking information was faked, causing the Russians to think there was a ship just 2 miles off the entrance to Sevastopol naval base; and the ships never left port.

    This is hard to credit; were these warning shots and bombs deployed to empty ocean? or were they dropped on Odessa port?

    I implied in an earlier post that the destroyer nad not passed through the Kerch Strait. There seems to be consensus that the ship docked at Odessa, which is in the Azov Sea, which in turn is only accessible via the Kerch Strait. It would be interesting to know whether they had (a) Russian approval and (b) a Russian escort.

    • Kempe

      Seems very unlikely. They couldn’t fake visual contact.

      Odessa is on the Black Sea coast to the north west of Crimea, not in the Azov Sea. You’re probably thinking of Rostov.

  • Jules Orr

    Why is this country with all its troubles burning money trying to intimidate Russia and China? It is as you say lunacy.

    • Wikikettle

      On YouTube “Radio Conversation between US and Spain”. Navigation problems and two men and a dog…

    • Tom Welsh

      Precisely because of all its troubles, Jules. What passes for the “UK government” has spent the past 18 months wasting hundreds of billions – if not trillions – of pounds vainly trying to extinguish a minor viral outbreak. It has, on the other hand, succeeded admirably in damaging the British economy and impoverishing everyone in the country except for a select handful of the very rich (or influential).

      What do politicians invariably turn to at such times? Obviously, foreign “conflict”. In time of war, or anything close to war, it is presumed that all loyal citizens must support “their” government through thick and thin. (In our case, almost everyone involved seems to be very thick indeed).

      “‘My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.'”
      — G. K. Chesterton, “The Defendant” http://www.online-literature.com/chesterton/the-defendant/16/

      “Patriotism, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit it is the first”.
      — Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”, 1906-11.

    • Walter Cairns

      Because they have come to realise that Russia and China in alliance with Iran and Syria have now become the dominant players in the Middle East. Get used to it.

  • Jm

    In yesterday’s Guardian there was an article detailing how the US military now views socialism as a terrorist ideology.

    Interesting times indeed.

    • Wikikettle

      Just. Lifting millions out of poverty, does terrorise the NeoLiberal elites.

  • Marmite

    If that is really happening, it is quite incredible. But we’ve all lost the need for proof that Britain continues to be a rogue state. You’d think this would be NEWS, but haven’t seen it reported anywhere. The action does have curious parallels with the practices of Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That is, violating others’ sovereignty, being warned to leave, suffering the consequences of being a violent aggressor, swaying the masses in favour of reprisals back home, and then the usual punitive missions. I suppose this time they will just have the decency to forego the pillaging and raping. How nasty does the British administration need to be before British people wake up?

  • Vinnie the Pooh

    And there was a BBC journalist aboard. I mean, come on! They are not even trying to pretend it’s not a provocation.

    • fonso

      The presence of the state propagandist won’t be questioned. Not by anyone who matters.

  • Tatyana

    One Defender is not infesting the whole sea 🙂
    NATO will hold Sea Breeze exercises next week, and Defender will also be there. And 40 more ships – that looks more like infection 🙂

    Official announcement of the event in Russia:
    D36 invaded Russian territorial waters at 11:52 Moscow time at the distance of 3 kilometers. The crew was contacted by the ships of the Black Sea Fleet and the FSB Border Service, demanding a change in course under the threat of the use of weapons. However, all warnings were ignored.
    At 12:06 and 12:08 a border patrol ship fired warning shots, the military department said.
    At 12:19 pm, the Su-24M aircraft performed precautionary bombing of four OFAB-250s along the path of the destroyer.
    At 12:23 pm, as a result of joint actions of the Black Sea Fleet and the Border Service of the FSB of Russia, the destroyer “Defender” left the territorial waters of the Russian Federation.

    Further news refer to BBC journalist, who confirmed they were near the coastline
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57583363

    • Tatyana

      There’s also news saying Jonathan Beale later admitted that the Russian military had warned the crew of the British ship several times by radio. One of the messages said: “If you do not change course, we will shoot.”
      When the Defender approached the southern tip of the Crimea, the destroyer crew was already at combat posts, and the ship’s weapons systems were ready, Beale said.
      “This was a deliberate step to demonstrate our position to Russia,” he said.

      But I do not find the source of these statements

        • Piotr+Berman

          BTW, I wrote that the incident happened on the east end of Crimea, because I have seen a Russian map of the incident that showed only the southern part of the peninsula. It seems that Her Majesty Ship approach a the point where the peninsula has a pointed … sub-peninsula so a fairly straight course brought it in and out of the territorial waters.

          Somewhat analogous incursions were happening in the vicinity of the main Pacific port of Russia. Here, one interpretation is avenging the Russian aerial incursion into Irish airspace… but the latest news I have seen on YouTube was an official British statement, in Ukrainian, denying any incident off Crimea (information, disinformation, de-information???).

          This raises many questions. Is the Light Brigade anywhere near? Does UK still have a Light Brigade?

        • Kempe

          Tatyana has just repeated the ‘official’ announcement.

          Why would the MoD deny it? Surely it’s the sort of provocation they’re thirsting for and how come nobody recorded anything?

      • Courtenay Barnett

        Tatyana,

        Terrible and dangerous situation.

        Latter day imperial hubris?

        Maybe?

  • Tatyana

    The place of the incident is Fiolent cape, it’s Sebastopol. The city is and was always the main port base for Black Sea fleet. During USSR, during 23 years of the Crimea under Ukrainian rule, and still is now, when the Crimea is Russia again.

  • N_

    They were 3km into Russian territorial waters.
    They ignored verbal warnings to get out or be fired on.
    But they heeded actual warning shots fired from sea and air.

    • N_

      No word from NATO yet, at least nothing at their website.

      The incursion by HMS Defender began at 11:52 today Moscow time, about 11 hours ago. I don’t have an exact time for the shots but it is said (RIA Novosti) that decisions had to be taken within only a few minutes and that HMS Defender got 3km in, so presumably they were fired some time around noon Moscow time or 10:00 British Summer Time. Strange no public response from the loony Jens Stoltenberg.

      RIA Novosti publish a photo of HMS Defender with a copyright attribution to “Royal Navy”. I wonder how much they paid.

      This is akin to the dimwitted bully’s game of going up to someone and making hand movements in front of their face, saying “the air is for everyone”. Let’s see whether the nutters who run Britain will try the same move on China.

  • Tatyana

    This week there was a big flooding in the Crimea. Many people were injured, infrastructure damaged, hou make know this sort of disasters.
    Well, some of high Ukrainian officials commented on the situation in the most unhuman mocking manner. He said the Crimeanians prayed for water and God just granted too much – that was the allusion to the fact that Ukraine cut off fresh water channel for the peninsula.
    The statement even got counter-statement from another Ukrainian high official, suggesting they cannot say things like that if they truly want to return the Crimea back to the Ukraine.
    Obviously nobody of those officials were thinking of fresh water for the people.

    • Tatyana

      I wanted to say, that the mocking attitude together with the US 6th fleet arriving soon – this looks like the Defender sailors were drunk or over-inspired. Maybe they believed it’s just a funny joke to have a go at pesky russians (do I use the idiom correctly?)
      That may explain why Britain and NATO deny the bombing incident.

        • Tatyana

          I’m curious, which Boris does the latter refer to? Godunov or Yeltsin?
          Also, interesting to know, does Boris Johnson hiccup every time the idiom is used?

          • Bayard

            It’s just a classically Russian name, like “Fritz” was used to refer to the Germans, “Paddy” to the Irish and “Jock” to the Scots.

      • josh R

        Tatyana,

        “Pesky Russkies” 🙂

        although calling it an “idiom” might be too kind…..I’m not entirely sure about the difference between an idiom & a (slightly?) racist trope.

        I tend to rehash the term myself ‘cos it sounds infantile, just like the eejit militarists who coined it. No offense intended….. to Russians that is….. I’m quite happy to offend the eejit militarists.

  • Stevie Boy

    As an aside.
    I see that Spain and the USA have worked together to bring about the death of John McAfee.
    RIP John.

  • Wendy

    Julian Assange crossed my mind when I read this:

    “Anti-virus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been found dead in a Barcelona prison cell hours after a Spanish court agreed to extradite him to the US to face tax evasion charges.

    The Catalan Justice Department said prison medics tried to resuscitate him, but were not successful.

    It said in a statement that “everything indicates” Mr McAfee took his own life.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-57589822

    • Tom Welsh

      ‘It said in a statement that “everything indicates” Mr McAfee took his own life.”’

      Under the circumstances, perhaps a wise decision. The fate that awaited him may well have been much worse than death.

    • Wikikettle

      HMS Defender is very advanced and can scan with powerful radars. The Navy of Nelson insisted its Captains be fearless and throw caution to the wind. Today we are assembling an Armada gathering in numbers of various countries in a show of force, returning to centuries past of Naval domination against Chinese Junks and Boxers. Lighting the flame of past humiliations and loss of face. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Chinese ( unlike the Iranians ) can not and will not wait to get sufficiently stronger. The prodding and goading will succeed in getting a reaction. It is both us and them heading for a inevitable clash. On our part we can’t wait and on their part, can no longer take the humiliations. So war it is for sure. But just remember, the Boxers no longer just have Junks, farm implements and their bare hands.

    • josh R

      Wendy,

      I was put in mind of Murray’s “there is no chance whatsoever that I will voluntarily commit suicide” comment:

      https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2021/05/eu-states-combined-to-force-down-snowden-flight/

      Particularly bearing in mind McAfee’s October 15 2020 tweet:

      “I am content in here. I have friends.
      The food is good. All is well.
      Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine.”

      https://twitter.com/officialmcafee/status/1316801215083225096

  • Tatyana

    Today’s comments on the situation bring animation of the Defender course
    https://youtu.be/1JBU6qxRsbQ?t=54
    Well, as one could easily expect, comments from Ukraine are of the same type – Crimea is Ukraine, Ukraine allowed Defender to pass through Ukrainian territorial waters, evil Russians fired for no reason.
    The Sea Breeze excercise is coming soon, and such passages should be expected to repeat.
    In the event that Russia fires at NATO ships, it could turn into a war.
    But most likely, this is creating a precedent and a pretext for Russian ships to be unable to sail in the territorial waters of other states.

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