Tension In Territorial Waters
Soon after a British warship entered the Black Sea during its voyage from Ukraine to Georgia in the last week of June 2021, President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin warned both the UK and the US not to provoke Russia. On June 30, the President said that Moscow could have sunk the British warship, HMS Defender, for illegally entering its territorial waters without starting the Third World War.
Even before President Putin met the press, the Kremlin had claimed that Russia could have bombed the British naval ship in the Black Sea for coming closer to heavily fortified Crimea. It may be noted that Russia had annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. However, the US, Britain and other European countries still recognise the Black Sea peninsula as a part of Ukraine, and not Russia. Hence, London claimed that the British warship had every right to enter the Black Sea after Moscow challenged the right of HMS Defender to transit waters near Crimea.
President Putin expressed his anger over what he called a provocation, saying that the Western Powers should not test the Kremlin’s patience. When asked whether the world had stood on the precipice of Third World War during the recent standoff, the Russian Strongman replied: “Of course not. Even if we had sunk the ship, it is hard to imagine that the world would have been on the verge of World War Three because those doing it (the provocation) know that they could not emerge as victors from such a war.“
The Russian President believes that the US and Britain had prepared the plan together. He stressed that a US spy aircraft had taken off from Greece earlier on the same day to inspect how Russia would respond to the British warship. “It was obvious that the destroyer entered (the waters near Crimea) pursuing, first of all, military goals, trying to use the spy plane to see how our forces would stop such provocations, to see what is activated and where, how things work and where everything is located,” he told the press.
According to President Putin, it is unfortunate that such an episode took place shortly after his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva. “The meeting in Geneva had just happened, so why was this provocation needed, what was its goal? To underscore that those people (the Americans and British) do not respect Crimeans’ choice to join the Russian Federation, ” he added.
The Russian leader strongly criticised London and Washington DC for asking the Russian forces to pull back from the Russia-Ukraine borders after their build-up had generated concern in Europe. Putin insisted: “We did this. But instead of reacting positively to this and saying ‘Okay, we’ve understood your response to our grumbling’… instead of that, what did they do? They barged across our borders.“
Geopolitical experts are of the opinion that Britain and the US are trying hard to provoke Russia in order to put the Putin Administration under diplomatic pressure. However, it would be a difficult task for the Western Powers, keeping in mind Russia’s close ties with Asian Giant China. Together, Russia and China can destabilise entire Europe by stopping gas and oil supplies. If they paralyse normal life in Europe by triggering an energy crisis, Europe would not dare to challenge Russia over the Crimea issue.
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