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HMS Defender escorting USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf in 2014. Wikipedia

What is Britain trying to achieve in Crimea?

Atlanticist incursions are increasing in the Black Sea. On June 23, a British ship entered Crimean waters and on Monday a large-scale exercise co-organized by Washington and Kiev will kick off. Will the Black Sea become the battleground chosen by the United States, NATO and their allies to provoke Russia?

Published: June 26, 2021, 4:11 pm

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    In light of recent events, the answer seems positive. On Wednesday, June 23, the Russian Black Sea Fleet fired warning shots at a British destroyer located less than 12 miles from the Crimean peninsula – home to the headquarters of the Russian fleet – which entered Russian territorial waters without warning. It was “a voluntary provocation,” said Moscow.

    The waters around the Crimean peninsula belong to Russia since the Crimea referendum dating from 2014. Contesting this ballot – which they consider illegal – the West, and in particular London, believe this area is located in Ukrainian waters, contrary to international law.

    Prof. Dr. Stefan Talmon, the Director at the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Bonn, published an opinion on the legality of the zones Russia had declared in May this year.

    Talmon highlighted that even occupation (as defined by the West) extends to the occupied State’s territorial waters, including 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.”

    In fact, the US created the precedent: On 2 May 2004, the United States, acting as an occupying power in Iraq, issued a notice to mariners establishing with immediate effect a 2000-metre exclusion zone around the Khawr Al’Amaya and Al Basra oil terminals in the Persian Gulf and temporarily suspended “the right of innocent passage […] in accordance with international law around [these] oil terminals within Iraqi territorial waters”.

    Thus the British drew Russian fire for the first time – 30-mm cannon from the coastguard vessels, and the dropping of four OFAB-250 bombs. Russian military reports also suggest that the British, with Dutch, NATO and Ukrainian participation in Odessa, attempted a failed cyber deception exercise several days before the provocation.

    Added to this British taunt, is the imminent start on June 28, of a joint exercise, Sea Breeze 2021, organized as every year since 1997 by Kiev and Washington. Operations bringing together 5000 soldiers, 32 ships and 40 planes from 32 countries which will therefore take place right on Russia’s border. If these exercises could lead to errors and slippages, undoubtedly, Russia said it would be ready to fight back. “No response is to be excluded” in the face of possible further provocations, said the Kremlin spokesman reacting to the incident with a British destroyer.

    Recent Russian inventions such as the astonishing advances in fundamental aerospace technologies as embodied in the hypersonic, intercontinental Avangard missile, which skips across the top of the atmosphere at Mach 25, like a flat pebble over a still pond, should make Anglo-Saxon warmongers pause. This is essentially a fully maneuvering ICBM, over its entire flightpath, and is not stoppable by any conceivable means. It was deployed already in ICBM silos, with American weapons inspectors present as per the arms treaties, back in 2019.

    The US possesses no such technology and is not close to fielding even hypersonics of low to moderate range and capabilities, much less intercontinental.

    Incidentally, the coast of Crimea is protected by the ground-launched version of the Oniks missile, called the Bastion, carried on all-terrain heavy truck chassis for mobility and with a striking range of about 500 km. A ship like the British HMS Defender, which is classed as an “air-defense” destroyer, would have no chance of stopping even a small salvo of Bastions, or air or ship-launched Onikses, as they skim the sea surface and are thus not detected by ship’s radar until they come over the radar horizon of about 12 nautical miles. That leaves a reaction time of just seconds at the missile’s Mach 3 flight speed, an observer told FWM.

    The Tsirkon, which will be carried in the same missile launch tubes as the Oniks and the subsonic Kalibr [the anti-ship Kalibr version does have a terminal supersonic sprint], flies at an incredible Mach 8 to 10. The US Navy has admitted that its ship defences cannot stop anything flying faster than Mach 3.

    Even North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was surprised as he launched missile after missile over The US Pacific Fleet consisting of no less than 17 Arleigh-Burke class Aegis missile defence ships, plus four such Japanese ships. Not a single intercept was attempted with the Aegis BMD.

    Surely a successful intercept of these DPRK missiles, most of which were actually only intermediate-range missiles [IRBM] that fly at much slower speeds than ICBMs, would have sent a huge message to the entire world, especially to Russia.

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