LONDON, The United Kingdom – Comments of the British admiral arise in the context of growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine after three ships illegally crossed the Russian border.
Speaking to the Daily Star Online, Admiral Lord Alan West said that sending a UK Royal Navy surveillance ship to Ukraine as a counterweight to Russia would not be a smart idea, suggesting sending a Type 45 destroyer.
“If we are sending a ship into an area that there might be fighting, it would be sensible to send a ship that can look after itself and that can fight,” he said.
He also warned that NATO’s actions may fuel tensions in the region following the incident in the Kerch Strait.
“You have to think very carefully about deploying forces close to Russia. If we send a huge NATO force there it will be seen as an aggressive posture – but we could have a limited number of ships looking after freedom of navigation,” he said, without realizing the irony that this is still aggressive and would be treated the same.
The reality is that NATO lacks the cohesion and will to unite around this mission, while simultaneously involving elements of its member-state fleet in the eastern Mediterranean surrounding the Syrian conflict. NATO is not officially involved in the Syrian conflict, while several member states such as England and France are assisting the U.S and Israel.
Last week, Britain’s Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that London would send more troops and a Royal Navy vessel to Ukraine to defend “freedom of navigation.”
“As long as Ukraine faces Russian hostilities, it will find a steadfast partner in the United Kingdom,” he reportedly told his Ukrainian counterpart.
Reacting to the incident, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office issued a statement condemning Russia’s “act of aggression.”
“We condemn Russia’s act of aggression in seizing three Ukrainian vessels and their crew. This incident provides further evidence of Russia’s destabilising behaviour in the region and its ongoing violation of Ukrainian territorial integrity,” the statement said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident in the Kerch strait of provocation, noting that among the members of the crews of the Ukrainian ships that violated the Russian border there were two agents of the Ukrainian secret services who in fact led this special operation.
On Sunday, three ships of the Ukrainian Navy, in violation of Articles 19 and 21 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, crossed the Russian maritime border.
The ships entered the water zone that was temporarily closed and carried out dangerous maneuvers for several hours without reacting to the demands of the Russian vessels that accompanied the Ukrainian ships.
A decision was made to use weapons and arrest Ukrainian ships. During the incident, three Ukrainian military officers were lightly wounded without life threatening. Russia has opened a criminal case for breaching the border.