Comments by Jim Campbell
June 23, 2021
This is the type of idioiotic maneuver that could set the black sea ablaze.
HMS Defender was off Crimea in international waters when the 8,500-ton ship – armed to the teeth with hi-tech weapons systems – was confronted by the smaller vessel bellowing out its demands.
Russian warplanes were them called up join in and buzzed the Type-45 destroyer with four bombs dropped onto its path.
The incident unfolded just a few minutes before noon when according to Putin’s defence ministry, the Royal Navy ship crossed Russia’s maritime border near Cape Fiolent.
The 500ft cutting edge destroyer kept its course until confronted by much smaller Russian coastguard vessel.
The BBC reported that more than 20 aircraft were overhead the HMS Defender with two Russian coastguard boats just 100m away at times.
The crew of the tiny Russian ship bellowed “if you don’t change course I’ll fire” at the massive British vessel.
The Russian vessel opened fire twice – once at 12.06pm and again at 12.08pm – before the planes were ordered in.
Defence Correspondent for the BBC, Jonathan Beale, was on board the HMS Defender when the shots were fired.
“We did hear some firing in the distance but they were believed to be well out of range,” he wrote.
“As HMS Defender sailed through the shipping lane it was buzzed by Russian jets.
“The Captain, Vincent Owen, said the ship detected more than 20 military aircraft nearby.
He added: “Commander Owen said his mission was confident but non-confrontational.”
At 12.23pm HMS Defender then exited Russian waters.
Retired Rear Admiral Chris Parry, told The Sun Online it appears the Russian ship confronted HMS Defender after the Royal Navy vessel “got a bit bored” with it so fired “in indignation”.
“She was being trailed by some small border patrol craft. I think at one stage HMS Defender got a bit bored with it, so came up in speed.
“The patrol boats could not actually keep up, so in indignation they fired their guns somewhere, but nowhere near the ship.”
He explained that if the confrontation had escalated, there would only be be one likely outcome.
“This is not a ship you really want to take on if you are Russian,” he said.
“Most importantly HMS Defender has probably the best anti-aircraft systems – it can detect golf balls at a range of about 20 miles and can engage multiple targets.”
Russia’s aggression was for their own internal audiences, said Rear Admiral Parry.
“They want to say they have seen off a Royal Navy destroyer from their main fleet base in Sevastopol.
“If you add to that the Russians were conducting some form of live fire exercise, some miles away, what the Russians have done is linked all these incidents and said they’ve seen Defender off the premises.”
Officially, the UK is playing any suggestion of a confrontation with the Russian ships and planes.
The Ministry of Defence has insisted warship was simply conducting an “innocent passage” through Ukrainian waters.
Hitting back at Russian claims, it insisted: “No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path.”
Russian media also reports a much more dramatic version of events, saying the SU-24M aircraft dropped four bombs on the course of the warship.
And a security source confirmed to the The Sun: “It’s basically pretty much as the Russians had it. We’re just not giving them the attention they crave.”
The incident is the latest clash between the West and Russia in the Black Sea, which has been the staging ground for numerous confrontations between warships and warplanes.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This morning, HMS Defender carried out a routine transit from Odesa towards Georgia across the Black Sea.
“As is normal for this route, she entered an internationally recognised traffic separation corridor. She exited that corridor safely at 0945 BST.
“As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity.
Moscow has summoned British officials to answer for the confrontation which comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West.
Defence sources said they believed the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the vicinity of the Type 45 destroyer – but there was no mention of dropping bombs.
The Royal Navy warship was said to be simply taking the most direct route between Ukraine and Georgia having yesterday visited Odessa.
The latest dramatic incident comes as Ukraine is reportedly seeking to enter NATO in what would be a major blow to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine and Russia have been at odds ever since Moscow illegally annexed Crimea from Kiev in a move that received international condemnation.
It has since allegedly been supporting rebel groups fighting in eastern Ukraine and has been accused of plotting further land grabs.
HMS Defender sailed into the region after operating as part of the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group in the Med.
The £1billion warship was sailing with Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.
Air traffic control monitor FlightRadar tracked a USAF “Rivet Joint” RC-135 spy plane overhead around the time of the alleged confrontation.
And it comes after Russia boasted it had “expelled” another British warship – HMS Dragon – from the region back in October.
Moscow claimed the destroyer had ignored warnings not to enter Russian territorial waters – and claimed she was chased of by fighter planes and warships.
At the time, Russia’s boasts were also rubbished as untrue by the MoD in another war of words between the two sides.
Russia had said in recent days that it was closely monitoring HMS Defender.
An earlier image taken from Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender showed Russian frigate Admiral Essen “shadowing” USS Laboon.
Russia’s national defence control centre said: “Forces and systems of the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet have started monitoring the movements of the Royal Navy HMS Defender and the Dutch Navy’s Evertsen frigate.”
The fleet’s former commander Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov said: ”Those ships will definitely not be welcome here.
“No-one is going to greet them as guests of honour, while their actions will definitely be monitored.
“They will be put under direct surveillance, technically, from the air and from outer space.”
The Russian fleet was enhancing “its combat preparedness, especially the readiness of air defence crews and particular standby forces” with the presence of the NATO ships, he said.
They were being subjected to “close monitoring”.
“Their visits to the Black Sea have become too frequent,” said Komoyedov.
“Their intensified presence has gone too far.
“They are complying with the Montreux Convention, but the activity of ships from non-Black Sea countries has never been so intensive before, even in the Soviet period.”
What is happening between Russia and Ukraine?
RUSSIA and the Ukraine have remained technically at war since 2014.
The conflict was triggered by the Ukrainian Revolution – when an uprising overthrew the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych.
Vladimir Putin’s forces annexed the region of Crimea from Ukraine in a move which was widely condemned by the West.
The conflict then spiralled when pro-Russian groups in Eastern Ukraine then took up arms against the state.
Russia gave their backing the separatist forces which formed breakaway republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Putin’s forces then launched a military incursion into these regions as they gave their support to the rebels.
Almost seven years have now passed and the War in Donbas remains at a stalemate.
Russia is sent as wanting to prevent Ukraine from cosying up to the West – and it has been accused of attempting to recapture territory lost at the fall of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine is now making overtures to join NATO, a move which would secure its own secure and also inflame tensions.
Some 100,000 troops were deployed by Russia to the border with Ukraine earlier this year amid fears the conflict could escalate into all out war between the two.
Tensions have since deescalated – but region remains a tinderbox where one wrong move could potentially spark a raging conflict that may draw in the West.
Ukraine will hope NATO membership means they can call on the full backing of the US and UK to see off Putin’s bully-boy tactics.
Putin massed tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine earlier this year, sparking fears of an invasion.
The issue was discussed by Putin and US President Joe Biden at their historic summit last week, but little progress is believed to have been made.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky estimates that more than 90,000 Russian troops remain along their borders and said tensions could still escalate.
Kiev has been battling pro-Russia separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014, following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea.
The war has claimed more than 13,000 livea.
Speaking after his summit with Putin in Geneva, US President Biden described talks as “positive” – but divisions remain between the West and Russia.
“The bottom line is I told President Putin that we need to have some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by,” he said.
The US would maintain an “unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” he added, and said they would continue to seek a diplomatic answer based on the Minsk agreement peace deal.
In his own news conference, Putin defended his country’s actions in Ukraine and insisted they are simply following the Minsk deal – as Russia as always denied any aggressive intent towards its western neighbor. [Source]