Warmongering British Actions in the Black Sea 509

The pre-positioning of the BBC correspondent on HMS Defender shatters the pretence that the BBC is something different to a state propaganda broadcaster. It also makes plain that this propaganda exercise to provoke the Russian military was calculated and deliberate. Indeed that was confirmed by that BBC correspondent’s TV news report last night when he broadcast that the Defender’s route “had been approved at the very highest levels of the British government.”

The Prime Minister does not normally look at the precise positions of British ships. This was a deliberate act of dangerous belligerence.

The presence of a BBC correspondent is more than a political point. In fact it has important legal consequences. One thing that is plain is that the Defender cannot possible claim it was engaged in “innocent passage” through territorial waters, between Odessa and Georgia. Let me for now leave aside the fact that there is absolutely no necessity to pass within 12 miles of Cape Fiolent on such passage, and the designated sea lane (originally designated by Ukraine) stays just out of the territorial sea. Look at the definition of innocent passage in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea:

Very plainly this was not innocent passage. It was certainly 2 (d) an act of propaganda, and equally certainly 2 (c), an exercise in collecting information on military defences. I would argue it is also 2 (a), a threat of force.

So far as I can establish, the British are not claiming they were engaged in innocent passage, which is plainly nonsense, but that they were entering territorial waters off Crimea at the invitation of the government of Ukraine, and that they regard Crimea as the territory of Ukraine and Crimean territorial waters as Ukrainian territorial waters.

I want to impress on you how mad this is. The whole point of “territorial sea” is that, legally, it is an integral part of the state and that the state’s full domestic law applies within the territorial sea. That is not the case with the much larger 200 mile exclusive economic zone or sometimes even larger continental shelf, where the coastal state’s legal jurisdiction only applies to specific marine or mineral resources rights.

Let me put it this way. If somebody is murdered on a ship within twelve nautical miles of the coast, the coastal state has jurisdiction and its law applies. If somebody is murdered on a ship more than twelve miles off the coast, the jurisdiction and law of the flag state of the ship applies, not the law of any coastal state in whose exclusive economic zone the ship is.

In international law, the twelve mile territorial sea is as much part of the state as its land. So to sail a warship into Crimean territorial seas is exactly the same act as to land a regiment of paratroops in the Crimea and declare you are doing so at the invitation of the Government of Ukraine.

There is no dispute that Russia is in de facto control of the Crimea, irrespective of British support for the government of Ukraine’s claim to the region. It is also true that Russian annexation of the Crimea was not carried out in an accordance with international law. However, it is not, in practice, likely to be reversed and the situation needs to be resolved by treaty or by the International Court of Justice. In the interim, the UK government legal position can only be that Russia is an “occupying power”. It is impossible that the UK government legal position is that Ukraine is in “effective control” of the territory.

We need to see the legal advice provided by FCO legal advisers. It is simply not the practice in international law to ignore the existence of an occupying power which is a recognised state, and act with armed forces on the authority of a government not in effective control. The difference in British attitude towards Russia as an occupying power and towards Israel is tellingly different.

The legality of the British action is, at very best, moot. In realpolitik, it is an act of brinkmanship with a nuclear power and further effort to ramp up the new Cold War with Russia, to the benefit of the military, security services and armaments companies and the disbenefit of those who need more socially useful government spending. It is further an act of jingoist populism for the neo-liberal elite to distract the masses, as the billionaires’ incredible wealth continues to boom.

NATO will shortly commence a naval exercise in the Black Sea. As not all the member states of NATO are quite as unhinged as Johnson, it is to be hoped it will refrain from this kind of extra layer of provocation. There is a large part of me that says they cannot possibly be mad enough to attempt to intervene in Ukraine with military force, or at least its threat. But then I look at Johnson and Biden, and worry. This can all go horribly wrong.


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509 thoughts on “Warmongering British Actions in the Black Sea

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    • Hans Adler

      I don’t really understand that link. Looks like someone’s personal blog and lacking a lot of context.

      However, I do remember that around that time I was extremely worried by a reports that the British ministry of defence was planning for an actual, hot war with Russia. At the time there was, of course, no indication of any provocation that could have caused planning for something as unthinkable as that. I then got the impression that whatever had been planned was cancelled because of Trump’s election. Apparently the plan has been reactivated now.

      • Julian

        That is the blog of Andrei Martyanov, a professional military analyst and former Russian Naval officer. He takes a bit of a hardline view on any conflict with Russia: it would be over in a couple of hours, using only *conventional weapons* because the West’s electronic systems would be blinded, its aircraft would be shot out of the sky and smashed on the ground, its logistics, command and comms destroyed and any forward units slaughtered by overwhelming Russian artillery barrages. He’s written 3 books on the subject. Filled with equations, in case you are that way inclined.

  • clay sucre

    How could the UK government forget so quickly-did not the recent summit put forth- “a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought” joint statement! What’s all this sabre rattling about?We the ordinary occupiers of the planet only want peace!

    • Steve Hayes

      They aim to destabilise and to provoke an arms race. The latter being very profitable for certain Western interests and potentially bankrupting for Russia at least. But the West isn’t what it was and could bankrupt itself and when it comes to China there’s no sign that it’s a game they are about to take part in. AKA generals always fighting the last war.

      • Tom Welsh

        I don’t dispute the profit for certain Western corporations, Steve. But the idea of bakrupting Russia through an arms race is nothing more than a faint echo of a mistaken belief from the 1990s.

        Today the Russian government has insignificant debt and very healthy income. Moreover, it doesn’t need to engage in an “arms race” as it is already a generation ahead of the USA. At most it might need to manufacture a few more of the existing weapons, which guarantee complete superiority – conventional and nuclear.

        And of course the very idea of starting a war “to bankrupt your enemy” is hopelessly obsolete. As any war between Russia and NATO would wipe out all human life, there would be no need to worry abouts debts.

        • Steve Hayes

          I think we’re more or less saying the same thing. I’m not sure how much diversion of resources into the postwar arms race contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union but I’m sure the people whose interests align with massive spending in the West believe it did. Hence their belief that having useless warships to posture on could lead to history repeating itself which is what I meant by fighting the last war. Of course they are assuming that it won’t lead to an actual shooting war. But as is all too common, they tell themselves that they are incredibly smart and that their opponents (the Russians) are too dim to have learned from experience.

      • Minority Of One

        I believe that most Western governments are to all intents and purposes bankrupt already. If the global financial system crashes over the coming months, that is going to be painful, very painful, economically and I can’t help but think it is going to hurt us a hell of lot more than Russia. Russia have been through this before recently and they managed to pull through. Not sure we will.

        • Muscleguy

          Countries with fiat currencies cannot become bankrupt. When you can issue currency this cannot occur. Otherwise the costs of Covid would have bankrupted the world. Do not mistake Greece or Portugal for fiat currency owning countries.

          Everyone just printed the money. Normally when you do that your currency devalues, but everyone did it to much the same degree at much the same time so the world floated on a lot of new liquidity.

          Note creating money does not create debt or does not create debt which needs to be repaid or interest paid on it. The lost production and economic capacity will certainly be disruptive but new entities will emerge, old ones will expand to fill voids, the shuttered shops and businesses will get new tenants and with time it will all be smoothed over.

          Read about Modern Monetary Theory and stop thinking of nation states like households.

    • Tom Welsh

      ‘…did not the recent summit put forth- “a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought” joint statement!”‘

      As Claud Cockburn warned, “Never believe anything until it has been officially denied”.

  • Jo

    It’s all to make a second tv series of British little warship pretends it is something bigger….omg….the spume of absolute hysterical hatred from UK politicians heads of committees etc against Putin….their ships are mostly rustbuckets cos Putin stole the money being the mildest….lots of quotes in DM of course.

    Ok close down UK Embassy….eject BBC….eject all UK based NGO’s as clearly regime change is still highly likely on UK wishlist if not actuality…

  • Alex

    What I found most curious in this story was that the British Government’s own BBC broadcasted a report, which directly contradicted the British Government own Defense Ministry & British Government own Embassy official public statements – within hours of their release. Should not somebody there be worried about perception their likely future claims about eg. “Russian aggression” or another “Russian poisoning” would be met by the public?

    • IMcK

      Yes I think that is curious as well. Could be the intent is to further the illusion the bbc is impartial and just tells it as it is. Maybe a sign they see trust in the bbc as waning

    • Yeah, Right

      Most likely the reason is that this BBC reporter didn’t read the memo.

      Or, if he did, he misunderstood what his role was supposed to be: the might have thought that his role was as jingoistic rah-rah merchant for war, whereas he was really supposed to project the image of a thoroughly professional Royal Navy going about its business in a business-like manner.

      After all, mixed messages do happen, and especially so when the government is as dysfunctional as this one.

      • Alex

        could be…but the reporter & **at least one editor? … then the ship’s captain (Royal Navy) giving interview & confirming what was said by BBC … That would be even worse than the Chief Army Nurse waiting to attend to poisoned Skripals at the right place & precisely the right time on the outskirts of a small rural town … ☺️ Craig should know **how or if this was possible.

    • Tom Welsh

      Such questions – valid and searching as they are – must be considered in the light of the Skripal, MH17, Navalny, etc. affairs. Those demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that the ignorant, credulous British people will accept almost any story that involves evil (and, oddly, incompetent) foreigners. Rob Slane has written a number of incisive articles taking the British government’s story about the Skripals to pieces, and demonstrating dozens of impossibilities, contradictions and incompatibilities. The latest and perhaps crispest is here: https://www.theblogmire.com/the-salisbury-poisonings-two-years-on-a-riddle-wrapped-in-a-cover-up-inside-a-hoax/

      Yet I would bet that at least 95% of British people believe the government story!

      People’s input filters will do their usual work, screening the contradictions out of consciousness and retaining nothing much more than “wicked Russians”, “brave British sailors”, etc.

  • Roderick Russell

    I simply don’t understand why British policy appears to be so anti Russian. This is not the cold war when there was a serious ideological dispute between both countries that many feared could lead to a hot war. Nor are their territorial matters between Britain and Russia in dispute. In pulling the rug from under Boris’s feet in the recent NI protocol dispute the Biden Administration and several of our European allies have done Britain more damage than Putin ever did. So why is British policy so anti Russian today? I would have thought that sensible people would have welcomed the ending of the cold war.

    • Joseph Mellon

      It is simple: as a state either you answer the phone calls from Washington which tell you to compromise your national interests and obey, or else you get the treatment.
      The stronger or more important you are militarily or economically determines the extent of the ‘treatment’.

      • N_

        It wasn’t “ideology” that made the USSR reject Marshall aid, for instance.
        If that had been so, the USSR wouldn’t have been one of the countries that cooperated to establish the United Nations with its headquarters in New York City.

    • On the train

      It is puzzling I agree….but if you read 1984 you might find an explanation there for the need to have an enemy to hate and to whip up fear about. .

      • Tom Welsh

        Exactly so. A wicked, powerful, unscrupulous enemy is de rigueur, to divert attention from the immense and bumbling incompetence of the British government at home.

        And actually there aren’t many options nowadays. We mustn’t hate anyone in Europe (except Russia and Belarus); the entire US sphere is off limits, as the Americans are God; and that basically leaves no enemy of choice but Russia and China.

        Both of those fit the bill quite well, as they are far away, little understood (how many British people can read or understand either Chinese or Russian?) powerful and very easy to malign.

    • Yuri K

      For one thing, traditionally, GB can’t stay away if there is a major war going on because GB always expects to be among the winners. This was the primary reason GB went into WW1, for example. Similarly, GB joined the American adventure in Iraq in 2003 not because Tony Blair was George Bush’s poodle, but precisely for that reason, to avoid being sidelined. The major war going on right now is the 2nd cold war and GB just can’t spend it idling. For another, British foreign politics have always been personal. The Crimean War was a triumph of the Russophobes, from David Urquhart (unfortunately, a Scotsman) to Stratford Canning and Hamilton Seymour. There must be some contemporary urquharts and cannings in the Cabinet, I’m sure you know the names.

    • DunGroanin

      This is a lot older than the Cold War.

      Look up Great Game.

      Look up the centuries long attempts at the original robber barons bankers desire to institute a ‘National’ Bank – owned like every nations Bank, by private shareholders.

      That’s how to grab natural resources and wealth creation of Nations.

      The Russians have always resisted , through the centuries as they did in WW2 and now.

      They don’t need International Bankers to run their state finances. And they won’t end up like Libya , Iraq etc who resisted in futility.

      We are the BAD GUYS. As usual.

      • MI0

        As often, I agree, with sorrow, dismay and contempt that “We” (that is, THEY) ARE the bad guys, in this incident and in so much else.

        An insanely dangerous game, in my view – playing Russian Roulette with people’s lives. Presumably because the elites imagine they can skuttle off to their bunkers if the bullet is fired and the going gets hot.

        “Who controls the narrative controls the world” in Caitlin Johnstone’s phrase.

        I’m a bit heartened that Novara Media have reportedly reached 150,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel – it was only a few months ago they were celebrating hitting 100,000. Granted this will mean they get targeted, but what else can progressives of goodwill do except try, in every small way possible, to persuade enough people of goodwill to wake up; to refuse, to say no to the selfish, dangerous, corrupt bullshit world these leaders want to live in?

        That’s why I support Craig and his blog. Until we can get enough people out from under the mind control, it is only a matter of time before “they” screw up their game and millions of us are killed.

        I hope there are thousands of people on the march in London tomorrow and they make bigger headlines than the fact that it is apparently “Armed Forces Day”. Although I know which side the BBC will be plugging.

    • Shatnersrug

      Because the pentagon, CIA and therefore the Democratic Party want a war with Russia. Trump didn’t particularly so he was accused of all sorts of conspiracies with them.

      He gone, game on. Once upon a time our politicians stood up to foreign pressure. Wilson told Washington to swivel over the Vietnam, thatcher expelled Israeli diplomats and even threatened to shut down the embassy.

      But these days politicians are uninspiring careerist middle manager types you might find in Ricky Gervaise’s office. If the done thing is kissing the ass of Israel and USA is the done thing that’s what they’ll do

      • pretzelattack

        caitlin johnstone has a list of actions trump took to heighten tensions with russia. he was uncouth and worse, unpredictable, so not as contrallable as biden, but he wasn’t some kind of outlier. see the nuclear treaty, nato’s continued provocation of russia, etc, not to mention he even escalated obama’s pursuit of assange.

    • Squeeth

      During the “Cold War” the USSA and the USSR continued the main element of the Second World War, the military occupation of Germany. Co-operation was far more significant than the wars they fought elsewhere.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      Roderick Russell

      The UK is only following the US which sets the general western line. The west needs to loot Russia and China because there is nowhere else left to loot and the west’s power depends on its economy which in turn depends on looting places. They know they can’t win a war against Russia, China or Iran so the strategy is to try and engineer a regime change which will serve their purpose. This strategy consists of promotion of internal unrest combined with economic and military harassment.

    • Joseph Mellon

      The USS Liberty was in international water and not in anyone’s territorial waters.
      The nearest land was Gaza which at the time was Egyptian.

      • Laszlo

        Correct. The USS Liberty case was for illustration only.
        What is considered international or territorial water on the Black Sea though remains an issue. And it needed a mad man to order crossing such a disputed area with a (provocateur) warship and expose British lives to a completely unnecessary and certain death. Perhaps the crew should have been replaced by BJ & co – I bet they would not have left Portsmouth by more than 12 nm.

  • Jm

    I watched Putin being interviewed by the ridiculous school prefect-ish wannabe blowhard Keir Simmons.

    Putin came across as measured, rational and open to dialogue.

    It must terrify bumblers Biden and Boris.

  • pnyx

    Once again, I agree one hundred percent with every single statement. Since the British leadership also knows all this, talking about an ‘innocent passage’ is a mockery of Russia aimed at inducing Putin to react rashly. In other words – the Johnson administration is playing with the lives of every single inhabitant of the earth.

  • Uwontbegrinningsoon

    I couldn’t resist posting this from the DT

    Some 150 soldiers from the 16 Air Assault Brigade boarded two C-130 Hercules at the RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus before jumping 800ft down into the barren terrain outside Amman, where they simulated an attack on a town, intended to “demonstrate to adversaries, such as Russia with its interests in Syria, our capabilities and commitment to Jordan”.

    It gets better!

    Brigadier James Martin, the commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said: “We are trained specifically in the techniques of air manoeuvre. It is a demanding role and the brigade places a premium on being expeditionary and integrated with the other domains.”


    • DunGroanin

      “ We are trained specifically in the techniques of air manoeuvre.”

      Lol manoeuvre out of the way of a killer mini drone zipping around so not a single one of them lands untouched.

      • Tom Welsh

        More efficient just to destroy the lumbering Hercules before the drop.


  • Jason Wills-Starin

    There’s no disputing Russia’s military conquest of Crimea by the UK fleet in alliance with the Ukrainian government?

    Isn’t that just bluster?

    Russian troops with their insignia missing, ram up a flag and ran a fake election in Crimea. The UK moved a ship, the Russians launched an obsolete aircraft, dropped 4 obsolete bombs making a navigation hazard in international waters and fired less than 20 rounds from a 12.7 mm anti-personnel machine gun 3 miles away, in a Rubin patrol craft.

    A provocative act would have been shooting down the Su-24 that violated the Destroyer’s right of navigation, and boarding the pirate craft and turning it’s personnel over to Kyiv for trial.

    • Simon

      I think things may not have been as straightforward as you state re: Russian military conquest of Crimea. But if you want to be black and white about it, yours is certainly one view.

    • pretzelattack

      what fake election? crimea reportedly never wanted to be a part of ukraine. if you dont want people to defend themselves, don’t attack them.

    • Yuri K

      Always nice to hear from an armchair hawk, but don’t you find it strange that shots from “3 miles away” are clearly heard on the BBC video? And why would the brave British sailors put on protecting flash gear in response to dropping of the obsolete bombs?

    • C avery

      The parallels between Scotland/England Ukraine/Russia are frightening accept we have the oil and gas.

    • Squeeth

      All machine-guns are “anti-personnel” and a half-inch one is anti- a lot of other things too.

    • Igor P.P.

      There’s no way to give a warning with a cruise missile – the modern anti-ship weapon of choice. So “obsolete” weapons must be used unless you intend to destroy the ship.

  • C avery

    In April Russia announced it would restrict passage in certain areas of the Black Sea to military traffic until October. Presumably, this was the Tories testing their resolve.

    Boris should maybe read of the battles at sea and on land during world war 2 to assess Russia’s determination to hold this ground and the Black sea ports.

    Given that 65% of Crimea identifies as Russian 15% Ukrainian I suspect that the referendum supported annexation although I accept that it can be argued that much of the indigenous population was sent elsewhere in the Russian empire and non indigenous people relocated. Alf Baird notes a similar phenomenon within these Isles so we can’t say Crimea is unique.

  • michael norton

    Essentially the Mediterranean prize has been won, by Russia.
    Russia fought on the side of the Syrian people and has decisively turned the tide, in the direction of Russia.
    Russia, now has a naval base and an airforce base, located on the Mediterranean sea, not far from the British bases in Cyprus.
    Not far from NATO Turkey. Not far from American-backed Israel.
    Not far from the Suez Canal.
    Right on the spot of the huge Eastern Mediterranean Hydrocarbon basin. There are enough Hydrocarbons in this basin to fuel Europe for a hundred years or more. Turkey only has the most minute snippet of this Hydrocarbon Basin.
    Russia is good friends with Greece and Cyprus and Egypt.
    Russia will in future be able to control the Eastern Mediterranean.

  • Kaiama

    It is also true that Russian annexation of the Crimea was not carried out in an accordance with international law.

    I would welcome your rationale for treating the unilateral declaration by Kosovo differently to the unilateral referendum held in Crimea.

    • craig Post author

      The Kosovans are a people with the right of self-determination. That status in Crimea belongs to the Tartars, not the colonisers.

      • Pigeon English

        “Kosovans” are ethnic Albanians! There is not such a thing as Kosovans! They ara Albanians from Kosovo.They are not ethnic group.

        • Pigeon English

          Questions still remains what International Law Albanians in Kosovo referendum followed compared to “Krimeans” referendum?

          • Pigeon English

            BTW Kosovo Serbs are more like Tatars. Albanians due to their high birth rate over decades became vastly dominant ethnic group + Serbs emigration + Albanians escaping Albania during reign of Enver Hoxha.

          • craig Post author

            Having a referendum or not having a referendum is not relevant in international law. You have no idea what you are talking about.

          • Paul Cockshott

            Having a referendum was very relevant to Saarland joining Germany or Northern Ireland and Scotland staying in the UK.

      • Courtenay Barnett


        ” That status in Crimea belongs to the Tartars, not the colonisers”

        So, by way of parity of reasoning – over in New Zealand – would your process of reasoning not be equally applicable to the Maoris?

        Or – are we playing a game of political expediency here?

        Over to you.

        • craig Post author

          Of course. Any important decisions on national self-determination in New Zealand should be taken by the Maoris. I wouldn’t have let anyone else vote on the flag, for example.

          Incidentally, brilliant to see New Zealand win the world cup. Batting was still extremely difficult as Taylor and Williamson brought them home. wonderful.

          • Muscleguy

            @Courtenay Barnett

            Maori in NZ by and large prefer playing Softball to cricket. At one time NZ were World Champs Men & Women and senior age groups.

            There have been Maori in the Black Caps but you cannot force people to play if they do not wish to. NZ Cricket does not exclude Maori. Ross Taylor is of Samoan background. The bowler Patel’s origins should be obvious.

      • Squeeth

        I think I can hear the sound of hollow laughter from the Cherokee and Mohawk people….

      • Blissex

        «The Kosovans are a people with the right of self-determination. That status in Crimea belongs to the Tartars, not the colonisers.»

        That is one of the most ridiculous claims I have heard for a long time, because surely if the notions is to exclude “colonizers”, that right belongs to the goths, not to the invading tatars. Or it belongs to the greeks, not to the invading goths.

        And surely the invading albanians who invaded the area around the serbian capital of Pristina thanks to the support of the Ottoman colonizers had no right of self-determination then.

      • SA

        In the complex history of Crimea it seems that Ukraine’s rights for Crimea is much less solid than either independence or to be part of Russia or even, as the Tatars are Turkic, to be part of Turkey. In any case ‘reannexation’ of Crimea to Ukraine, especially in its current shambolic state, will not help any Crimeans whether colonisers since the 18th century or the Crimean Tatars. So in fact the current Western interest in Crimea has nothing to do with correcting historic injustices but purely for Western propaganda purposes. If the concern is for the Tatars then their cause is much more likely to be served by the slow and perhaps rather inadequate process already in place in Russia to address this issue than by reannexation to Ukraine.

        • craig Post author

          It should self evidently be joined to Kazan in an independent Tatarstan. Not difficult to understand at all. High time the Russian Empire decolonised.

          • SA

            But that is unlikely to happen, is not on the horizon and not what the current agenda of it being part of Ukraine. That is also not difficult to understand.

          • Tom Welsh

            I cannot understand the principles from which you are reasoning, Mr Murray. You write as if the “ethnic” origins of people were all-important. To join Crimea and Kazan into a single state would be perverse and impractical, as they are 2,000 km apart. Or would you give all the intervening territory to Tatarstan as well?

            Besides, Russia and Central Asia are full of Tatars. Where do you draw the line? If there is a community of Tatars in Moscow, should that district also be added to the “distributed Tatarstan”?

            And would people of Asian or African ethnic origin living in the UK be encouraged to affiliate themselves to their original home countries?

            I thought it was generally accepted that discriminating between people based on their “ethnic” origins was racist, and quite unacceptable. But can it be, then, that people can be awarded large slices of territory in other people’s countries on exactly that “ethnic” basis?

          • Tatyana

            Mr. Murray, please refer to the map.
            The route connecting the capital of Tatarstan Kazan and Crimea lasts about 2000 kilometers.
            It passes through Russian lands, including my region. Then it meets the Black Sea.

            Do you propose to give an imaginary independent Tatarstan all the land between Kazan and Crimea?
            What are your ideas on the connection between such a metropolis and a province? Crimean Bridge?
            Or, are you proposing an independent Tatarstan with an enclave in the Crimea?
            And the most important question – did you ask the opinion of the residents of Tatarstan themselves?

          • Tatyana

            Mr. Murray
            I will draw a parallel to make clearer my bewilderment over your opinion:
            Recognizing the Tatars’ right to the Crimea is the same as recognizing the results of the Battle of Hastings and demanding the return of control of Britain to the French.
            Or recognize the Roman conquest, and hand over control of your islands to Italy.

            Are you sincere in your views?
            Your words sound like the voice of Turkey, which uses the local diaspora of the Crimean Tatars in its geopolitical aspirations. Crimean Tatars have never been independent, they were part of the Mongol Empire, and later of the Ottoman Empire.

          • Yuri K

            The Crimean Tartars are more distant from Volga Tartars than the Austrians are from the Prussians. Unless you are trolling, of course.

          • james

            craig, it appears your hatred for russia clouds your ability to think clearly here..

      • Blissex

        «The Kosovans are a people with the right of self-determination. That status in Crimea belongs to the Tartars, not the colonisers.»

        The other ridiculous aspect of this idea is that the “Autonomous” Crimean Republic was annexed forcefully to, and colonized by, the Ukraine in 1954, without any vote by the Tartars, and that forced annexation is the sole basis of the Ukrainian claim to Crimea.

      • Tom Welsh

        I am surprised, Mr Murray, to hear you speak of “a people”. How is such “a people” defined?

        Presumably not in the same way that “British” people must not be defined as those of British descent whose families have traditionally lived in Britain. (As that would be racist).

        The notion that every “people” (or “race”, or “Volk”) constitutes a nation, and that every nation must have its own state and territory, dates back to Woodrow Wilson – and look what a pig’s breakfast he made of the world because of it.

        Who lived in Crimea before the Tatars – an Asiatic people who invaded it a few centuries ago? Why do the Tatars not count as “colonisers”?

        • james

          good questions… i doubt any answer will be forthcoming unfortunately… craig appears in over his head here…

      • Tom Welsh

        But Mr Murray, if as you say “The Kosovans are a people with the right of self-determination” – how does that fit in with your other statement that “Having a referendum or not having a referendum is not relevant in international law”?

        How can a “people” assert their right to self-determination if not through a referandum or other vote?

        You say that only the vote of the UNGA is decisive in deciding whether a state exists and is entitled to certain territory.

        The only way I can see to reconcile those statements is to believe that the UNGA can be trusted to vote according to the wishes of the Kosovan (or other) people. But, failing a referendum, how can they even know what those wishes are?

        Please don’t tell me that a “people”‘s right to self-determination can be proved by the self-serving declarations of a bunch of politicians? (Which is incidentally what happened when some clever fellows in Kiev announced Ukraine’s existence as a state – incidentally for the first time in history. They didn’t trouble to find out what the Ukrainian people wanted).

        • Pigeon English

          Mr Murray as Historian, Journalist, Expert in International Law, Expert in Maritime law should be UN adjudicator which “people” can and can not claim self-determination. As historian He knows who is “native” and who is “coloniser” and how far back in history to go.

          • Tom Welsh

            That’s what worries me, Pigeon English. I hope that no one imagines that my occasional criticism of Mr Murray’s statements implies any hostility to him, or deprecation of his worth. It is exactly because I mostly agree with him and value him so highly that I take the trouble to write down my occasional disagreements.

            My questions are by no means rhetorical or cynical. I actually desire to understand why someone so clever, well-educated and experienced in diplomacy can see things in so different a way. Perhaps there are important facts that I do not know, or considerations of which I am unaware.

            After all, I was rejected by the Diplomatic Service as utterly unfit for their kind of work.

      • Mr V

        Colonisers, AKA tatars? Again, Craig, open history book, Russians and the Greeks were on Crimea for hundreds of years before brutal, genociding slavers (these tatars you keep pushing) arrived with the Mongols. By the exact same (completely wrong) reasoning you could argue Scotland belongs to English now (because they conquered it about the same time tatars did Crimea) and the Scots should shut up and leave because they are “”colonizers””. Which is utter bollocks BTW. You can’t have it both ways, which is it?

      • Lenny

        And the Russians whose ancestors have been living in Crimea for more than 300 years. do not have this right? As far as I know, tartars came to Crimea on the wave of the Mongol Conquest. Then, the Crimean Khanate succeeded the Golden Horde and formally created the tartar state – also a state of colonisers, following your logic. Any particular reason you’re singling them out as the native population of Crimea?

        • Squeeth

          The Boer bastards in Transvaal and the Orange Free State objected to incomers while ignoring the paradox that they stole the land from real Africans. “Kosovans” take note.

      • Peter AU1

        Tarter is the Russian term for Mongol. The Tartars of Crimea are the remnants of Genghis Khans Empire. By that standard, the descendants of the Romans have full right to call Britain home. Just as the Hebrew tribe who had a city state in that area a couple of thousand years ago have the full right to call Palestine home.
        That British hatred of Russia Craig is very similar to the Nazi hatred of Russians. In fact, as in Ukraine, the Brits work hand in hand with the remnants of the nazi’s of WWII.

      • Alexander Myagkov

        Craig, if your logic applied to full extend it is arguable that Scots themselves have right to self-determination, since they are also colonisers.

        It was Picts who were original inhabitants of Scotland and the fact that they do not exist anymore, makes it even worse in my view. I would suggest that only those in Scotland who have certain portion of Picts blood have rights to vote for independence, or may be even only they can vote at all on any political matter.

    • Fat John

      ” It is also true that Russian annexation of the Crimea was not carried out in an accordance with international law.”

      I will look forward to your reaction when Russian warships start sailing within 12 miles of Diego Garcia, in that case.

      • Tom Welsh

        I strongly recommend that anyone who resents what has happened to Diego Garcia should read John Michael Greer’s superb novel “Twilight’s Last Gleaming”. The part of the action that involves Diego Garcia is short, but intensely sweet to those of us who resent imperial arrogance.

  • DunGroanin

    As the U.K. populace finally comes out of the fog of sovereignty and my-taxes and foreigners to just start tasting the ashes on their tongues of BrexShit, finally realising the deadly Bozo Clowns for the liars and thieves they have always been, but losing thei a meme holidays and no doubt going out of the Euro Football on penalties next Tuesday, as usual … a little diversion getting us looking ‘over there’ is a desperate gambit.

  • Stuart Cleary

    Russia did NOT annex Crimea, Crimea asked to become part of Russia as it serves both crimean and Russian interests to do so, previously Crimea had requested to return to Russia only to be turned down due to a Russian Ukraine agreement on Russian access to Crimea & the rest of Ukraine. UKRAINE breached this agreement during the US funded maidan protests and war on East Ukraine which threatened Russian Territory. Your article smacks of controlled opposition, keeping the lies alive while feigning independence.

      • Tom Welsh

        And Hitler was at least partially right about the Sudeten Germans. Just because Hitler said something does not by any means serve to prove it wrong: that is sloppy and emotional thinking. To take just two obvious examples, he wrned everyone that smoking was dangerous and possibly lethal; and he inclined, though not fanatically, to vegetarianism.

        After Germany was tricked into WW1, the outcome was inevitable. The Germans went to Versailles trusting in promises they were given, only to find those promises retracted. They were forced to agree to iniquitous terms of peace, as the Royal Navy was still enforcing a blockade well into 1919 which killed many German civilians. They were told that the blockade would continue until they accepted the terms dictated to them – including reparations that were intentionally impossible to pay.

        Additionally, Germany suffered great and quite unjustifiable territorial penalties. It was Hitler’s reasonable desire to take back large German communities into what they considered their native country that was mainly responsible for triggering WW2.

        So there is indeed a close parallel between the situation in Crimea today and that of the Sudeten Germans (and others in Poland, etc.) in 1938-9. In both cases, law and morality were mocked and perverted to put a designated enemy into an impossible position.

        Whereas Germany has always had a difficult strategic position, being threatened with war on two or more fronts, Russia is threatened mostly from the West. It will prove impossible to squeeze it into making concessions.

        • Greg Park

          “Germany has always had a difficult strategic position, being threatened with war on two or more fronts”

          Perfectly understandable then why they tried to enslave Europe, launch a war of racial annihilation in the east and wipe out all jews, Gypsies and disabled and gay people.

          • Bayard

            “Perfectly understandable then why they tried to enslave Europe, launch a war of racial annihilation in the east and wipe out all jews, Gypsies and disabled and gay people.”

            I don’t recall any mention of Kaiser Bill doing any of those things. What are your sources?

        • Squeeth

          The Treaty of Versailles wasn’t iniquitous compared with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and was open to revision, which began almost immediately.

        • J Galt

          Tom, you should know by now that the word “Hitler” is a magic word, against which any rational reply is rendered useless.

          • Tom Welsh

            Yes; I wondered when I saw Mr Murray resort to it. But I often have similar reactions, so I don’t feel any indignation.

      • Merandor

        So what? Bananas are yellow. You totally ignore the clear historical fact that he raised.

      • Iain Stewart

        I’m beginning to suspect some of these geopolitical expert commenters are perfectly aware of the Sudetenland precedent, and are exasperatingly happy about it.

      • Squeeth

        Hitler said what he said about Sudetenland because he wanted a war in 1938 with Czechoslovakia to take all of it. The French and British pretended to believe him and denied him his war by coercing the Czech government into ceding Sudetenland. The diplomatic realignments that led to the British, Russian and US alliance began after the Munich Agreement. You could look on it as the moment when Hitler’s time began to run out.

      • Yuri K

        Herr Hitler was also a vegetarian and a big fan of “The Merry Widow”. Shall we be highly suspicious of vegetarianism and ban Lehar’s music?

  • Blissex

    «It is also true that Russian annexation of the Crimea was not carried out in an accordance with international law.»

    That is pure handwaving because there never was a “Russian annexation of the Crimea”, as Craig Murray surely knows very well: the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted by a large majority to leave membership of the Ukrainian Republic, and become independent as the Republic of Crimea, as it is their right under international law; the Ukrainian parliament in 1990 and 1991 also voted to declare independence from the USSR in the same way.

    After that the independent Republic of Crimea applied for membership of the Russian Federation, which was subject to confirmation by popular vote, and the voters confirmed by large majorities, in voting endorsed by “atlantic” sources, as fair and reliable. This was also all done respecting international law and many precedents. To this day this act of self-determination by the crimeans has resulted in no or negligible regret, there are no anti-russian protests, no significant demands to exit the Russian Federation to become independent again, or to rejoin the Ukraine, and in russian general elections the crimeans vote in large numbers and not that differently from many other russian regions, and there is no significant vote for “independence” or “return to Ukraine” parties either.

    As to the idea that english armed forces have been invited by the government of the Ukraine into what they recognize ukrainian national waters, the same applies for example to Syria: the UK government has bombed Syria many times and sent troops there with the USA, invited by the government of Syria recognized by the UK and the USA (according to them the Assad government is an illegitimate usurper).

    There is nothing new or strange in this, and legalisms matter very little indeed. The adventure of the propaganda tours of the ship has to be evaluated purely according to “realpolitk” and as such it was a success, as the Johnson government got away with bear-baiting. Considering that UK and USA press report as acts of territorial aggression flights or navigation by russian or chinese vehicles dozens of miles outside territorial waters in the open seas the russians have demonstrated considerable patience.

    In the long term the UK and USA policy of bear and dragon baiting is amazingly stupid, but in the short term it serves its domestic political purposes well: there is another by-election shortly and the Conservatives Party are keen to win it, and jingoism helps.

    • SA

      I doubt this was a propaganda win for Boris. Defender, having to change its course under duress whatever its ferocity, showed weakness and the point has been clearly made by Russia. Normally the firing of warning shots are heavily decried with much hand wringing but in this case it was denied and underplayed.

      • CasualObserver

        Dont be too sure ?

        Perusing the comments sections of the various outlets that have aired the story, reveals a surprisingly large number of happy souls who are under the impression that one RN ship could have defeated every Russian asset in the region.

        • Tom Welsh

          I feel for those happy souls when (as may happen) a future provocation leads to an exchange of fire, which leads to an exchange of missiles, which leads within an hour or two to them sitting charred to ashes in their nice little suburban home while it burns merrily until it glows cherry red.

        • Bayard

          “happy souls who are under the impression that one RN ship could have defeated every Russian asset in the region.”

          “The reckless courage of the non-combatant” as Saki put it.

          • Tom Welsh

            Yah. But next time there won’t be any non-combatants.

            Just as there weren’t in Germany and Japan in WW2. The ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were absolutely no more ruinous than those of Tokyo, Dresden, Hamburg and dozens of other cities deliberately firestormed. Nor were the number of deaths any greater.

            As I sit, about 50 miles from central London, I can imagine the brilliant flashes from the East and North. What follows, my imagination can’t handle.

    • craig Post author

      The sole determinant of an independent state s recognition by the UN, principally by the General Assembly. Internal process may be a factor but cannot determine Independence, though our account entirely omits a rather large extra influx of Russian troops before the referendum, which makes it invalid as a democratic exercise. But, as I state, that is irrelevant anyway. The UN is all that matters.

      Eventually I expect the UNGA will get round to asking the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion. But I suspect we wll have a Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus style legal situation for some ears.

      But Russia was specifically claiming Defender infringed Russian territorial waters, not the waters of an independent Ukraine.

      The incursion was an act of madness. That does not solve the irregularity of the position of Crimea in international law at present.

      • Blissex

        «The sole determinant of an independent state s recognition by the UN, principally by the General Assembly.»

        That is for solely for membership of the UN though. Individual members of the UN and the non-members continue to recognize the existence or non-existence of countries on their own. Plenty of countries, like the USA and the UK, have a list of independent countries that is different from that of the UN, and yet they are members of the UN themselves.

        «entirely omits a rather large extra influx of Russian troops before the referendum, which makes it invalid as a democratic exercise.»

        But the vote by the parliament regardless happened before, and regardless there was a large presence of Ukrainian troops too (some of which tried to prevent the declaration of independence), and regardless then any vote in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, Palestine, Cyprus, or Italy, Germany, Japan, Philippines, Panama, etc. etc. etc. would de democratically invalid. But the democratic validity of a vote depends solely on it being conducted in a fair way that reflects the choices of the electorate, and the regardless of the recognized presence of the Ukrainian armed forces, and the treaty-enabled presence if the Russian ones (or the alleged presence of the extra Russian ones) we all know that it was a fair vote and there is in Crimea itself no significant Crimean independence or “back to the Ukraine” constituency today.

        There is also what is not a “mere detail”: the forced annexation of Crimea to the Ukraine in 1954 was then invalid too and so Crimea was never legitimately part of the colonizing Ukraine. What kind of sophistry makes the forced 1954 annexation to the Ukraine legitimate and the more recent declaration of independence illegitimate?

        • Akos Horvath

          Kosovo didn’t even have an independence referendum. The KLA leadership simply declared independence after NATO occupied the territory. Most of those NATO countries that are hyperventilating about Crimea have been quite OK with Kosovos’s secession. As is typical for the European ‘Union’, several countries with their own separatist movements do not recognize Kosovo. Spain, Slovakia, Romania, etc.

          Kosovo is unviable as an independent entity. Unless one considers cigarette smuggling and prostitution a sound economic foundation. It will likely join Albania proper, in return for allowing the Serbs in the north to join Serbia.

          • Pigeon English

            As Putin said at the time, once you accept Kosovo secession you are opening “Pandora box”.
            As long as the same criteria apply I have no objection but “some animals are more equal than others”

          • Akos Horvath

            I have no problem with Kosovo’s independence or unification with Albania. But the Serbs in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina have the same right in my opinion to secede and join Serbia. Same goes for Crimea, Scotland, Catalonia.

            Wherever Western colonial powers drew borders, be it in Africa or Eastern Europe, the end result was ethnic strife and instability. Probably that was the main goal in the first place. Stability and independent development outside the West are considered as ‘threats’ by the West.

      • Tom Welsh

        “The sole determinant of an independent state s recognition by the UN, principally by the General Assembly”.

        That statement is consistent with your other comments on the subject. But surely it is quite impossibly utopian? The UN General Assembly theoretically represents the nations of the world. But in fact it is a group of a couple of hundred individuals, each with their own motives, ambitions and plans.

        It should be utterly obvious that the UNGA is highly susceptible to being subverted by money, threats, promises of favour, etc. Most of which have always come from Washington and its puppets.

        You previously declared that “Having a referendum or not having a referendum is not relevant in international law”.

        If that is the case, why then the law is an ass. It is as transparently self-evident as any proposition can be that the government of any group of people should be chosen by those people – and not anyone else. That is certainly what the revered US Declaration of Independence says. (Or has someone now rendered it out of date?)

        You seem to be saying that the wishes of the people who live in Crimea are completely irrelevant to the question of who should rule Crimea, and of what nation it should be a part. Moreover, you assert that only the UNGA has the right to make those decisions!

        The underlying fallacy seems to be the assumption that “democratic” governments (operationally defined as those that unquestioningly obey Washington) represent their people and their interests. So they will vote at the UN according to those interests.

        Whereas the truth is that Washington can command a majority of the UNGA any time it wishes, merely by brandishing a few bundles of dollars.

      • Yeah, Right

        “The sole determinant of an independent state’s recognition by the UN, principally by the General Assembly.”

        That argument is indefensible. Prior to the end of the Cold War there were any number of states that could not be recognized by the UN, precisely because membership of the UN requires the approval of the Security Council in addition to a vote in the General Assembly.

        People forget that prior to the 1990s the United Nations was nothing like as inclusive as it is now. Yet nobody would suggest that (just to give an obvious example) North and South Korea did not exist as independent states simply because they were not member states of the United Nations.

        The sole determinant of an independent state is recognition by other states. The United Nations has nothing to do with it.

      • David G

        “The sole determinant of an independent state [i]s recognition by the UN, principally the General Assembly.”

        I believe that statement is completely incorrect as a matter of international law.

        The UN perforce makes a determination of statehood in admitting a state as a member, but there is nothing in the UN charter or its practices that involves granting statehood as such (although, of course, the Trusteeship Council in its day was involved in moving the territories it was responsible for toward independence or incorporation into existing states).

        In fact, since statehood is a prerequisite for full UN membership, logically that status must *precede* admission, and not be a consequence of it.

        Switzerland was not a UN member until 2002. Was it not a state before then? It did have observer status prior to 2002, but surely Swiss statehood was not reliant on that fact.

        The 1947 Palestine partition UNGA resolution envisioned two states, but that was not enough to create an Arab Palestinian state at that time – even in the eyes of the UN – since no such entity emerged post-1948 that met the objective criteria for statehood (allowing that the situation since the 1990s has become more complex).

        Taiwan would seem to meet the criteria for statehood. While it is not generally considered to be one, that fact is not because it lacks UN “recognition”. It is first and foremost because Taiwan has never *claimed* to be a state: it still claims to be China. If it ever declares independence, statehood will become a live question. While Craig’s ethnic fundamentalism would probably dismiss that the ethnic Chinese on Taiwan have any right to self-determination, what would he say if the Austronesian indigenous Taiwanese supported such a declaration?

      • Igor P.P.

        You do realise that despite the influx, the number of Russian troops stayed well below 25,000 limit allowed by the treaty with Ukraine? If so, why would it have any bearing on the validity of political procedures in which they did not in any way participate?

  • Baalbek

    The further the Western empire declines, the more its delusional leaders lose their sanity. Russia is a proudly sovereign nation with a rich history and dominates the Asian land mass; China is a longstanding civilizational state with a population of 1.4 billion. These countries are not going anywhere and they will never allow themselves to be assimilated by the west.

    Yet western political elites on both the nominal left and on the right have staked their reputation and legitimacy on “outcompeting” China and “containing” and/or driving a wedge between Russia and China.

    The idea that one bloc of nations can unilaterally rule the world until the end of time is madness, yet here we are.

    Unfortunately many people, particularly fans of “populists” like Trump and consumers of right-leaning media, who see Russiagate for what it is have swallowed hook, line and sinker the nonsense that China is an existential threat that wants to usurp the US and take over as the hegemonic imperial power. (Meanwhile the “lab leak theory” and “Uiygar genocide” are grooming “progressives” to accept China as an enemy state.)

    Now imagine an America in permanent decline and fraught with internal unrest…and Mike Pompeo or some other fanatical American exceptionalist neocon is elected president of the United States. Does anyone doubt that people like this would launch a last-stand nuclear war or goad idiots like Boris Johnson into starting a fatal provocation that results in an unintended shooting war?

    Can the west accept a multipolar world order or is an eventual cataclysmic confrontation with Russia and/or China all but inevitable?

    • SA

      Of course both Russia and China are existential threats. Somehow international politics is discussed as a fair ethical interplay between peaceful nations working towards the common good. This is a fairy tale. China took the West and played their game so successfully but within state control and is threatening the west’s monopoly on power and prosperity. Russia on the other hand has done so by a miraculous recovery from the depredations visited upon it in the 1990s and rebuilt its defences. Denying the west it’s unfettered rights to rule the planet are these threats.

      • Baalbek

        I never suggested that international politics is a “fair and ethical interplay between peaceful nations.” There will always be tensions due to limited resources, ideological differences etc.

        Empires and competing blocs of nations are an unfortunate reality. However, only the European imperial powers and their successor nation, the United States of America, are hellbent on ruling the entire world forever. Even as their power inevitably declines they cling to the fantasy of global “full spectrum dominance” and their relations with Russia and China, and any other nation that refuses to give up its sovereignty, are extremely belligerent.

        Are China and Russia altruistic nations that want to bring peace and brotherly love to the world? Of course not. They defend their interests and seek to maintain reasonable order in their spheres of influence. But unlike the USA and its NATO satrapies, they do not seek to remake the world in their own image and maintain a hegemonic global empire.

        In that sense they are realists and they have no intention of colonizing or destroying America or Europe.

  • Sushi


    First images show Defender going to action stations. This is followed by images of crew loading weapons. The BBC reporter then comes on screen and states Defender has just departed the Ukrainian port of Odessa and has gone to action stations. This statement can be verified by the fact that in the background two crewmen are seen to be flaking out the ships berthing lines in preparation for stowage.

    The video clearly demonstrates Defender preparing for hostilities and this demonstrates action which contravenes the provisions for “innocent passage” as set out in UNCLOS. Defender is preparing for hostilities prior to entering Russian waters and cannot therefore claim a right to innocent passage. The video gives direct evidence contradicting the statements of UK MoD and UK PM.

  • Yeah, Right

    The Russian response to this provocation is, imho, absolutely correct.

    After all, they insist that they are the rightful sovereign, and are dismissive of the UK’s claim to the contrary.
    Therefore as far as the RUSSIANS are concerned this is the relevant Article from the UNCOLS
    Article 30: Non-compliance by warships with the laws and regulations of the coastal State

    “If any warship does not comply with the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning passage through the territorial sea and disregards any request for compliance therewith which is made to it, the coastal State may require it to leave the territorial sea immediately”

    Again, this must be stressed: from the RUSSIAN point of view they don’t care that the UK government denies the legality of the Russian annexation of the Crimea, and that British denial can not be expected to alter the Russian response to a British warship dragging its coat tails through that water.

    As far as the RUSSIANS are concerned this is their territorial waters, and if a British warship enters it then – axiomatically – that British warship is incapable of complying with Russian laws and regulations. The Russians therefore have every right to force that warship to leave.

  • Bert

    British Imperialism at its best. Have we forgotten the illegal occupation of the Chagos Islands?

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I am not sure that US activities in Syria are consonant with ‘international law’. I am absolutely certain that NATO occupation of Afghanistan is entirely outwith international law. I am totally certain that Operation Shock N Awe had no place in International Law.

    I am certain that the CIA and MI6 engaging in global drug trafficking to generate illicit funds for black ops not overseen by any sovereign Parliament is outwith international law.

    None of those crimes seem to be put into the minds of global juries when Counsel for the Prosecution claims that men can philander but women have their hands chopped off if they do likewise.

    No doubt US agitators approved heartily of Barrabas being spared and Jesus Christ being crucified….

    • craig Post author

      Rhys. yes those things you mention are contrary to international law.

      I am thinking of a new policy of permanent lifetime bans for the scores of fuckwits on this blog who argue that because the West does things that are wrong, Russia is perfect and never does anything wrong.

      • Tom Welsh

        I think there is a respectable precedent.

        “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye”.
        — Matthew 7:5 (King James Bible)

      • Ingwe

        It’s unworthy of you, Mr Murray, to reduce the arguments of those posters who disagree with you on the issue of the Crimea, to ‘West is wrong, Russia is perfect’.
        None of the posts that I’ve read have stated such an absurdist view. Yes, it’s your forum so you can apply whatever policies you want. It’d be a shame though if your obvious irritation at being challenged by those with different views led to such a policy.

        • Pigeon English

          CM stated even more absurd view on the other post that some of commentators (not Russian)

          “Many people here who see the wrongdoing of western governments look to Putin as a saviour, which is deluded”.

          Saviour from what?

      • Kempe

        China, Iran and Syria too.

        Problem is there wouldn’t be many regular contributors left.

      • Squeeth

        Will you give a life ban to the fuckwit who argues that Russia can do no right?

      • Josh R

        Bit “chilling”, that.
        Couldn’t quite see where Rhys suggested Russia was perfect.
        Honestly made me wonder if I’m one of “the scores of fuckwits” plaguing the site & due for a purge. After all, I’m forever decrying my own country’s crimes without adding the qualifier – “but Russia is terrible too”.
        Not sure if that’s the case or if that is what was intended by CM, but I did feel distinctly ‘chilly’…..

      • Blissex

        «because the West does things that are wrong, Russia is perfect and never does anything wrong»

        That to me seems a misleading misdescription, because the argument is not that the americans etc. do wrong and so the russian have a right to do wrong too, but that the americans claim that they are doing right, and so if the russians do the same, they that must be right too.
        That is also because we are having a discussion about “legality” rather than “morality”, and in legal arguments what one side does creates a precedent and a presumption of legitimacy.

        As to morality George Orwell wrote already wrote in 1945: “The Daily Worker disapproves of dictatorship in Athens, the Catholic Herald disapproves of dictatorship in Belgrade. There is no one who is able to say – at least, no one who has the chance to say in a newspaper of big circulation – that this whole dirty game of spheres of influence, quislings, purges, deportation, one-party elections and hundred per cent plebiscites is morally the same whether it is done by ourselves, the Russians or the Nazis.

    • Pigeon English

      Rhys just say at the and of your comment that Russia is much worst than the West and all you mention is just small bad demeanour!

  • joel

    I saw one of the crew members chuckling about how they liked “prodding the bear”. What goes unmentioned is that all prodding is done by reaching around the back of the Hegemon. If you told the chuckler the Hegemon was no longer going to back them up you would see the chuckle transform into a wince.

    • Blissex

      «I saw one of the crew members chuckling about how they liked “prodding the bear”»

      Why aren’t the ukrainians doing that themselves? Why should an english ship go several thousand km away from the coast of England to do it on their behalf near the coast of Russia?

      My impression is that like sending a carrier a few dozen thousand km away to “prod the dragon” near the coast of China: for propaganda posturing by reminding english voters of the glorious days of “gunboat diplomacy” (which is what the crimean adventure literally has been), and posture to the gammons as if it were true again that “England Rules The Waves”.

      That the Conservatives are doing this in Crimea of all places, and even worse on the south China coast, to rub the noses of the russians into a reminder of their defeat in the Crimean War, and rub the noses of the chinese into a reminder of their defeat in the Opium Wars, shows how arrogant the english government still feel they have a right to be.

  • Peter AU1

    Thanks for the post on the legalities of the incident.

    One thing – “It is also true that Russian annexation of the Crimea was not carried out in an accordance with international law.” – did Russia actually break any international law? Putin seems a bit of a stickler for staying within Russian and international law. I looked into it a bit at the time and it looked as though no international laws were broken. Crimea voted for independence by referendum and the same on joining the Russian federation.

    • Wikikettle

      If Russia hadn’t secured Crimea, there would be US, Nato troops there ! Russia and China do want the UN and International Law to have primacy in my view. HMS Defender was used as bait. Like the Iranians, the Russians and Chinese have kept their powder dry thus far. We seemed determined to have a war, and have plans in place for one provocation after the next. Once the balloon goes up, the laws already in place will kick in. News blackout from all sources except the State broadcaster, full lockdown and a cowboy will announce to the world ” you are either with us or against us”. The Rapture…..

    • michael norton

      All of Europe and the Middle East have had cultural groups swathing about since before their exploits were written down.
      It would seem that Crimea has been mostly Russian for the last thousand years, until it was given to Ukraine in 1954, without asking the people who lived in Crimea, if they thought that was a good idea?
      When the people who lived in the Crimea were given a chance to have their say, they mostly wanted not to belong to Ukraine and consequently, mostly wanted to re-join Russia.

    • craig Post author

      Don’t be tendentious Peter. Large numbers of Russian troops annexed Crimea before the referendum. In practice the annexation was successful. I cannot see how it will be reversed, and in practice the international community is likely to have to adapt to facts on the ground. This process takes decades in general.

      • Yeah, Right

        “Large numbers of Russian troops annexed Crimea before the referendum.”

        The word you are looking for is “occupied”, not “annexed”.

        An “occupation” is when your troops seize “authority” over a foreign territory.
        An “annexation” is when a state claims sovereignty over a foreign territory.

        What the Russians troops did in Crimea BEFORE the referendum was to seize authority over it.
        What the Russian state did in Crimea AFTER the referendum was to assert sovereignty over it.

        Words have meaning, and you are misusing the meanings of your words.

      • Peter AU1

        From my understanding, under the agreement or lease for the naval base, a maximum of 20,000 Russian personal.
        R2P? a precedent already set in that area though I am not sure on the legalities. There does appear a lot of grey areas in that part of international law, but as I said, I looked at the time and with maximum of 20,000 personal included in the naval base agreement, I could not find where international law had actually been broken. A appreciated your post on the legalities of this incident which is why I asked about that point as it is something I have always looked for the answer. It was a bit of an odd situation there all round as there had just been a violent coup in Ukraine.

        • Kempe

          The agreement the Russians had with Ukraine was that their forces would not leave the naval base. This they did, having first removed all identifying insignia from their uniforms.

          • Pigeon English

            Which one is it
            A) CM claims “that though our account entirely omits a rather large extra influx of Russian troops before the referendum, which makes it invalid as a democratic exercise” What is large amount 1000 10,000 20,000 100,000 ?
            B) “having first removed all identifying insignia from their uniforms”. Were they from Naval base or from Russia?
            C) Of course it is both 😀

      • Putinister

        What it really was, is that the nuland/pyatts carried out a coup in Ukraine, with the intention to hive off a tatar vacated Crimea for their second Khazar state (with Odessa eventually as capital) in due course. The western gentiles remain dumb to these machinations but not the russki, the coup was swiftly replied with the annexation of Crimea by putin.

        • Blissex

          «the annexation of Crimea by putin»

          that is just propaganda, the Russian Federation never annexed Crimea, the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic Of Crimea voted by a large majority to apply for the membership of the Russian Federation, which was accepted after a confirmatory referendum. When the UK applied to join the European Union it was not “annexed” by it, even if the brexiteers with their laughably named “Independence Party” have been hallucinating that for decades.

          The word “annexation” instead applies much more properly to the arguably illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to the Ukrainian Republic in 1954.

      • Bayard

        “Large numbers of Russian troops annexed Crimea before the referendum.”

        How did these “large numbers of Russian troops” manage to influence the outcome of the referendum in a way that still meant that independent observers thought it “free and fair”?

      • Blissex

        «Don’t be tendentious Peter. Large numbers of Russian troops annexed Crimea before the referendum.»

        The use of dissembling as “troops annexed” and “before the referendum” seems to me worse than tendentious, because the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has already voted for Independence and then for applying for Membership of the Russian Federation well before that, and under the watch of a large number of ukrainian troops garrisoning Crimea. The referendum was made only to ensure that membership of the Russian Federation was endorsed by a popular vote, which reflected the polls made by “atlantic” aligned organizations.

        The proven presence of large numbers of ukrainian troops, and the alleged one of russian troops, however had no influence on either the vote by parliament or on the confirmatory referendum later, whose outcome has not been disputed by any observers.

        • Blissex

          «because the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has already voted for Independence and then for applying for Membership of the Russian Federation well before that»

          Even more interestingly, as another commenter has pointed out, the crimean voters had already elected, while the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was still occupied by the ukrainian armed forces, in 1994, to become independent and join the Russian Federation, and Yeltsin, who was according to many russians, a foreign puppet, *refused* that request:


          Because Mr Meshkov was the first – and so far only – president of Crimea. He was elected in 1994, by a landslide, on a platform of reuniting the Ukrainian peninsula with Russia. Like an eager suitor, he hopped on a plane to Moscow… only to find his overtures to Boris Yeltsin rebuffed. The Russian president was far too concerned with building a relationship with the West to stir up the kind of trouble that annexing Crimea would have brought.

          Also that was not “annexing”, it would have been accepting the request for membership of a new Autonomous Republic.

    • Akos Horvath

      Crimea’s status had always been an issue for the locals, ever since Ukraine annexed it in 1954, or Khrushchev gifted it to Ukraine if you prefer. Crimea elected Yuri Meshkov, by a landslide, as president in 1994 on a platform of reuniting with Russia. He was duly deposed, exiled, and harassed by the Ukrainian government; not unlike the Catalan leaders Craig sympathizes with. Claiming that Crimea became a hotspot only with the rise of Putin is just ignorance.

      Years ago the BBC had a decent interview with Meshkov, I don’t know how it slipped through the truth filter.


      I visited Crimea in 1987 as a tourist. Lovely place, and I found little love for Ukraine. Most people struck me as having a strong Russian identity. Of course it was part of the USSR back then, so being annexed by Ukraine was just a minor irritant those days.

      I can also say that the ethnic Hungarians in Zakarpattia would also secede from the neonazi-run Ukraine in a nanosecond if Hungary was as powerful as Russia is. They have always been harassed but the harassment just skyrocketed after the Maidan coup. The Hungarian language has been banned in schools, etc.

      I love how the Ukrainians generally hate the Soviet period, with the exception of course their illegal Soviet territorial gains thanks to Stalin (Zakarpattia) and Khrushchev (Crimea). You know, we hate Hitler but the Anschluss is fine and we keep Austria.

      As far as I am concerned, the West can finance this gas-stealing violent neonazi country if they love it so much. Just don’t expect Hungarians paying for your geopolitical games.

      • Blissex

        «I can also say that the ethnic Hungarians in Zakarpattia would also secede from the neonazi-run Ukraine in a nanosecond if Hungary was as powerful as Russia is. They have always been harassed but the harassment just skyrocketed after the Maidan coup. The Hungarian language has been banned in schools, etc. I love how the Ukrainians generally hate the Soviet period, with the exception of course their illegal Soviet territorial gains thanks to Stalin (Zakarpattia) and Khrushchev (Crimea).»

        To say here “the Ukrainians” is a huge misdescription, because the Ukraine as it is today is an ethnically and politically mixed country, with the east being mostly russian/cossack and the west, after centuries of polish/lithuanian and austrohungarian ownership, being quite different, for example this quote:


        The population welcomed us warmly, regardless of how hard it was for them to provide food to soldiers; they always found some nice treats — some villagers boiled chicken, others boiled potatoes and cut lard (soldiers dubbed this kind of catering ‘a grandmother’s ration’). However, such attitudes were common only in the Eastern Ukraine. As soon as we entered the Western Ukraine, that had passed to the Soviet Union from Poland in 1940, the attitude of the population was quite different — people hid from us in their houses, as they disliked and feared the Muscovites and Kastaps (a disparaging name for Russians in Ukraine – translators comment). Besides that, those places were Bandera areas, where the nationalistic movement was quite strong.

        And it is even just a split between west and east, in the west there is a split between “promethean” polish/lithuanian fascists and “ruthenian” nationalists, in many parts of the west there was a three-way vicious fight among soviets, ruthenians, prometheans. Some links:


        “Conflicts in Ruthenia and Volhynia between Poles and Ukrainians also intensified during this time, with skirmishes between the Polish Home Army (AK), the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the Wehrmacht and Soviet partisans. These conflicts included massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia and revenge attacks on Ukrainians in Ruthenia. Many Ukrainian Galicians joined the UPA and supported its anti-Soviet and anti-Polish activities; others joined Germany in its fight against the USSR, forming the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician) commanded by German and Austrian officers Walter Schimana and Fritz Freitag.”


        “Rusyns formed two ephemeral states after World War I: the Lemko-Rusyn Republic and Komancza Republic. Prior to this time, some of the founders of the Lemko-Rusyn Republic were sentenced to death or imprisoned in Talerhof by the prosecuting attorney Kost Levytsky (Ukrainian: Кость Леви́цький), future president of the West Ukrainian National Republic.”

        Some other links:


        As to Zakarpattia, forget about it: Hungary was defeated both in WW1 and WW2, and like Germany (and Italy) it has been cut down to size, and for the foreseeable future it will be a protectorate.

  • Reza

    The BBC supports the supply of British bombs to blow apart kids in Gaza and Yemen. It has zero moral authority and should be disbanded.

      • Cynicus

        You agree the BBC should be disbanded?

        Tory Brexiteers and retro-Kippers will be cheering you on.

        • Greg Park

          The BBC is Tory from top to bottom. You cannot name one leftwinger working there in any significant capacity. So please stop.

          • Cynicus

            From top to bottom?

            Why then do Tories whinge about it’s left-liberal bias?

            They threaten to privatise it and turn into a subscription channel.

            The dress rehearsal is Channel 4

          • Tom Welsh

            Do you mean an actual left-winger, or someone who identifies as a left-winger?

          • Cynicus

            “So please stop.”

            I am confused as to what point you’re making. My claim that Brexit tears and Kippers favour BBC “reform” is hardly news.

            Nor does it amount to a counter claim that the Beeb is some kind of left wing organisation- I leave that to others.

            I respectfully suggest that you read posts more carefully before commenting on what you think they say.

          • Greg Park

            Tom, I mean leftwingers not establishment liberals, centrists.

            Cynicus, The BBC’s comedians revealed what they really are during the Corbyn era.
            Now, about the top — Chairman, Director-General, board of trustees? Or anybody in its vast propaganda realm of news, current affairs, politics? Just one leftwinger to set against all the well known Tories….

          • Squeeth

            Pretend claims about lefty bias in COMbbc belie the facts. It was always an establishment organisation and after the quasi-interregnum in the 60s and 70s it was subjected to gleichschaltung by Thatchler in 1986. TradBBC became COMbbc and it’s been a regime stooge ever since. The pretence of lefty bias is part of the game of keeping it righty.

          • Cynicus

            “So please stop.”

            I am confused as to what point you’re making. My claim that Brexit tears and Kippers favour BBC “reform” is hardly news.

            Nor does it amount to a counter claim that the Beeb is some kind of left wing organisation- I leave that to others.

            I respectfully suggest that you read posts more carefully before commenting on what you think they say.

          • Bayard

            “Pretend claims about lefty bias in COMbbc belie the facts. It was always an establishment organisation”

            The BBC is a major part of the Establishment. It doesn’t care about your race or your political or sexual inclinations, it only cares whether you are, or could be part of the Establishment. If you are, then you are in. If the government is to the right of the Establishment, then it moans about “lefty bias”. If it is to the left, it moans about “Tory bias”. The Establishment was pro Remain, therefore the BBC was pro-Remain. Corbyn wasn’t from the Establishment, so the BBC was against Corbyn.

          • Greg Park

            The BBC cares massively about political inclinations. That’s why no leftwinger can ever be found in an influential position, while its D-G, Chairman, political correspondents/presenters/show hosts are well known Tories (or proto-Tories like John Birt).

            I have never heard any government object to BBC’ news output being filtered through a tight web of neoliberals.

      • Cynicus

        I cannot believe the seriousness that Craig and BTL commenters attach to this story.

        It is a piece of pathetic willy-waggling by BoJo the Clown and the MoD. We should be falling about laughing.

        • Greg Park

          It is your BBC who brought it to public notice in sensational terms. Oops…

          • Greg Park

            Yes, it was they who broke this story and presented it as one of the utmost seriousness. Not Craig Murray. They had embedded one of their reporters specifically to bear witness to the provocation.

  • Andrew

    The wisdom of what the UK has done may be doubted, but I think you are jumping to conclusions on Article 19 of UNCLOS on innocent passage (which the MoD tweet, unhelpfully brief though it is, does invoke). We can’t exclude that para (c) on collection of information affecting the coastal State’s security might apply, since that is something that the US Navy admits that it routinely does, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the RN were the same, but that’s only supposition, as so far there is no evidence of it here. But it is drawing a long bow to say that having a BBC journalist on board is an act of propaganda under para (d). There have been no cases on it, so we can’t definitively know, but the word “activities” introducing the long list of acts that make passage non-innocent suggests that it is all about what the ship itself does (e.g. is it dropping waterproofed revolutionary literature into the sea at a location where the prevailing currents will take them onto land? are there loudspeakers blaring out calls to the local population along the coast to rise up in arms against their state, or a banner unfurled along the land-facing side of the ship with wording to the same effect that can be read from land? the last two would in practice require the ship to be a lot closer to land than the 10 miles it apparently was), and as far as we know all the Defender was doing was passing through the territorial sea. True, the mere fact of the passage can later be used for propagandistic purposes (“see, we poked the Russian bear and came to no harm, you too can do the same”), but the innocence or not of the passage cannot depend on what happens afterwards.
    Similar story regarding (a): a threat of force requires some communicative act beyond merely passing through foreign waters. There were arguments made to the contrary in the pre-UNCLOS era, but it was in part to forestall these that the negotiators came up with the list in Article 19(2) of UNCLOS, a very pro-navigation document whether we like it or not.

    • Yeah, Right

      Craig Murray is looking at the wrong article.

      The Article that makes Russia’s behavior impeccable and Britain’s behavior idiotic is Article 30.

      That article was specifically written to cover the situation where a foreign warship drags its coat tails through the territorial waters of a coastal state and then refuses to accept the right of that coastal state to tell it to leave.

      Under Article 30 the British were clearly in the wrong to carry out this provocation, and Russia’s response was entirely appropriate.

      • Andrew

        Not so, you need to read Article 30 in the context of other provisions, particularly Article 21. Article 30 only comes into play if there is a specific coastal state regulation being violated by the warship in innocent passage, and the warship is requested to comply with the regulation but fails to do so. But under Article 21 the regulation can’t have the effect of denying innocent passage altogether to a given ship, so if the Defender was merely dragging its coattails, as you put it, for the demonstration effect, it can’t have been violating any regulation in the sense of Article 21, and Article 30 won’t apply in this situation of a demand to leave the territorial sea solely because “we don’t want you here” .

        • Phil Espin

          Andrew a regulation like this one that came into force on April 20th 2021?


          Little mention has been made of the Dutch warship that accompanied Defender but didn’t feel the need to violate Russia’s exclusion zone for foreign warships. This looks like a stone killing two birds. Diss the Russians and split the EU.

          Also when did the journos get the call for this jape? How did they get to and on the ship? Someone please share.

          • Andrew

            This is not an Article 21 regulation, it is a temporary suspension altogether of innocent passage (though most observers would say 6 months is vastly excessive as a duration) in part of the claimed territorial sea. The condition for suspending validly is in Article 25(3): it has to be notified to the UN to take effect against other parties to UNCLOS, which in this case it has not been – see the list of notified suspensions, generally lasting no more than a week if that, at https://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/innocent_passages_suspension.htm – so my conclusion stands. Anticipating another objection, the list says it was last updated in 2020, but that is because that’s when the last notification was; the UN is generally prompt in keeping its webpages up to date, and only Mexico regularly makes use of Article 25 suspensions, which makes it safe to infer that, had Russia notified its April 2021 closure, it would have been posted there long before now.

  • CasualObserver

    Here’s the (possibly) real deal guys and gals,

    The Crimea, as well as being a vital strategic asset to Russia, occupies an important part in the Russian national view of its role in world history, think of something similar to Spitfires and the Battle of Britain to the British. Consequently, they are not going to give it up, not ever !

    Since the UK left the EU for real at the start of this year, it needs to find new markets, whilst at the same time adhering quite closely to a course laid down by its rich uncle, who at this time is represented by a fellow who never tires of telling anybody who’ll listen that he is Irish. So dear old Blighty is in a tricky spot right now, its trying to bamboozle the Land of the Blarney Stone whilst seeking the patronage of a potential benefactor who’s entire sympathy is with the folk the Brits would love to roll over.

    Obviously the Ukraine, much to the misfortune of the man on the Kiev Omnibus, is an utter cesspool of corruption and graft, so given our necessity to cozy up to Uncle, it makes much sense from the new markets idea to wade into the ordure in the hope that the yanks will grant the leavings of their table.

    The UK has at this time, probably the most corrupt government since the days of Robert Walpole, only given more credence today by the accusations that Handycock may have given influence in return for sexual favour ? Obviously such a state of affairs has been greatly helped by the lack of oversight, or outside criticism that being no longer in the EU has brought.

    It may be confidently predicted (?) that the future for Britain will be one of continuing government ineptitude, covered by a popular tabloid press that will be happy to denounce any outside criticism as a dastardly plot by jealous foreigners. And perhaps more seriously, the UK Military will become a proxy for that of Uncle, when it comes to poking those powers that are not subscribers to the so called Military/Industrial complex of the USA. No doubt we can expect to see the RN embarking on more exciting adventures in the near future, most likely sailing the QE Carrier Flagship through the gap between China and Taiwan.

    • SA

      Your assessment should surely include the extent by which the current US rulers are up to their eyeballs in Ukraine, Whilst Biden’s interests there are those of nurturing the business interests of his son, Nuland, who famously distributed cookies to the maidan rebels, and Blinken have much closer ethnic ties in more ways than one. GB is the cat’s paw here.

      • CasualObserver

        The reference to the leavings of the Yanks table refers to that.

        But you’re right, the USA will ensure it retains the biggest share of whatever can be wrought through the unfortunate Ukraine. And yes, Solzhenitsyn’s book, Two Hundred Years Together, should really be required reading for anybody wish to understand the nexus of the USA’s interest in the country.

        I should imagine the current topicality cant be maintained for too long , as the Ukraine is not so rich as to be able to attract the attention of the vultures by its own means. It merely serves as a conduit to redistribute monies injected from elsewhere. So if the EU ever decide that the interest of the Ukrainian populace is best served by their kindred folk in Russia, it would essentially reduce the size of the cash spigot to the point where it is much less interesting.

    • Akos Horvath

      Agreed. Tolstoy fought there as an officer and penned a few novellas about his experience. Add to this the Black Sea Fleet and the brutal WW2 battles (Brezhnev himself was fighting in and evacuated from Crimea). But acknowledging others genuine security interests is not a Western ‘thing’.

      Again, we are glad that the UK and its pathetic warmongering provocations are out of the EU, so this is only the UK’s fight. Good luck, don’t expect any help from us. Now, if we could also get rid of the paranoid Russophobes in mighty Poland and the Baltic midgets…

      Britannia used to rule the waves, now it only waves the rules.

      • Tom Welsh

        “Britannia used to rule the waves, now it only [waives] the rules”.

        That old cliché actually acquires fresh life in the current circumstances.

    • Blissex

      «the future for Britain will be one of continuing government ineptitude»

      That is quite a partial view common with “leftoids”, because for many millions of voters this has been a highly competent government because property prices in the Home Counties and London have been booming, and everything else is a detail. For a smaller number of millions this has also been a highly competent government in delivering the hardest possible brexit.

      Most voters don’t vote on the details, and expect any government to be corrupt and incompetent in many things, but they vote on what political scientists call their one “vote-moving issue”. What ruined the John Major government in 1997 after its 1992 landslide was not “sleaze”, about which many voters can grumble but don’t vote on, but the property crash (and recession) in between, which many voters don’t moan overtly about yet vote on.

      • Alex

        I agree. Just wanted to point out that the outcome of the latest event **might have been not what UK Government hoped to achieve since it knew very well how almost exactly the same scenario played in the past. There is no such thing as a coincidence.

  • ronan1882

    The Royal Navy was “sticking up for our values”, says the Prime Minister. Lying and warmongering.

  • Blue Dotterel

    According to Prof. Dr. Stefan Talmon LL.M. M.A is the Director at the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Bonn quoted on the Moon of Alabama blog:

    “Occupation also extends to the occupied State’s territorial waters (internal waters and territorial sea) to the extent that effective control is established over the adjacent land territory. Under the law of armed conflict, the occupant may take measures to ensure “public order and safety” in the occupied territory, including its territorial waters. … States cannot consider Russia to be an occupying Power in Crimea and, at the same time, deny it the rights that come with that status.”

    So, Russia’s would seem to be legally correct, and the UK’s legally suspect given that they regard Russia as an occupying power.

    • Jo

      Yup….amazing UK gov legal probably was not consulted before Bojo by jingo hooray Henry did not think but rashly off the top of his head nearly got UK into ww3. Cummings is correct…..Bojo is an existential threat to us all….along with all his other cronies who have been spouting their hysterical russophobic tweets.
      Clearly the following bungled messaging and so obvious dodgy PR stunts must cause the Russians to laugh their heads off. Yet Ukraine and Nato will fall for it. And most probably in with too. Dangerous times.

      • Andrew

        Except that both Ukraine and Russia have gone out of their way to deny that a state of armed conflict exists between them – as seen in the jurisdictional arguments on both sides a year or two ago for why one of the arbitrations that Ukraine has instituted against Russia should [not] go ahead to a decision on the merits – and the UK is entitled to rely on a position publicly taken by Russia to insist that UNCLOS should apply to this incident, to the exclusion of the law of armed conflict at sea. Either way, quite a bit of cakism going on here.

    • casperger

      Spot on.
      UK’s position will be “legally suspect” around the world for decades to come, as Johnson and co. have consistently and constantly demonstrated that they see the law as something that applies to everybody else, but not them, at home and abroad.
      They have done this on many fronts now, often to perform tricks for their poodle masters, but even more for their self interest.
      They are not “leaders”, they are selfish profiteers, wasters, and destroyers.
      In a few more months, they will have enactected UK law that makes almost any honest comment on their behaviour criminal, here and everywhere else.

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