The focal point of the Black Sea in the rivalry between Russia and the West

Quiet moment in the trenches in Gorlivka, the front line of the Ukrainian army with Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region.AFP photo

Tensions in and around the Black Sea are increasing. British newspaper Sunday times I mentioned yesterday that the UK is sending two naval ships to the Black Sea. According to the newspaper, it is about a frigate and a destroyer with anti-aircraft missiles, which will sail from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea next month. F-35 combat aircraft and helicopters on the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elisabeth will be ready to support the ships in the event of Russian aggression. By treaty, the aircraft carrier itself is not allowed to cross the Bosphorus and remain in the Mediterranean.

Great Britain wants to show its solidarity with Ukraine and its Western allies towards neighboring Russia. “The United Kingdom and our international allies are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the British government said in the report. Sunday times.

The Black Sea has become a focal point in the rivalry between Russia on the one hand, and Ukraine and Western countries on the other. The deployment of the British navy comes amid raging clashes in eastern Ukraine between government soldiers and pro-Russian rebels. Moreover, in recent weeks, Russia has pulled tens of thousands of soldiers with tanks, armored vehicles and artillery together on the southwestern border with Ukraine and the Crimea peninsula. In addition, 12 small warships and two large landing craft were sent to the sea area. This will soon be followed by two more of these landing craft, where tanks and armored vehicles can be brought ashore for amphibious operations from the sea. The Russians also announced that some parts of the Black Sea will be closed to foreign naval ships for a period of six months.

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The concentration of Russian forces is the largest since 2014, when the Russians annexed Crimea, which was still part of Ukraine. It remains unclear what Moscow’s intentions are this time. Russian President Vladimir Putin may wish to occupy a coastline between Crimea and Ukraine’s Donetsk region, where the pro-Russian rebels rule. But it is also possible that Putin just wants to send a signal of strength, to make it clear to the Ukrainians that they should not get too close to the West. According to Moscow, this is just an exercise “in response to the growing naval pressure”. Delegates from Ukraine and Russia will discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine in Kiev on Monday.

Tensions increased at the end of last week after the brief arrest of a Ukrainian diplomat in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday. According to the Russian FSB, a Ukrainian consulate employee was caught red-handed while trying to obtain classified information from Russian databases from a Russian and will be deported. The Ukrainian government denied that a consular employee in Saint Petersburg had committed any error and announced the expulsion of a Russian diplomat. According to Kiev, the arrest is a “provocation.”

Expel the diplomats

The European Union, NATO, and the United States responded with concern to the Russian troop build-up. “It’s a major concern,” said General Todd Wolters, the commander of US forces in Europe. The foreign ministers of European Union member states are due to meet on Monday to discuss the conflict.

For now, Western leaders hope to de-escalate the situation with a mixture of resistance and reconciliation. For example, US President Joe Biden last week announced new sanctions against, among other things, Russian individuals and banks – something to which the Russians responded by expelling ten American diplomats. About a thousand navies, including the Americans, will also train in Ukraine this summer, hoping to scare away the Russians.

But at the same time, Biden also called Putin into a big meeting this week. In addition, the US Navy canceled the scheduled voyages of two warships to the Black Sea. Biden said Thursday that he hopes for a “stable and predictable” relationship with Moscow.

Megan Vasquez

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