“Poke a Russian bear with a stick.” What provocations to expect in the Black Sea

Vladimir Kornilov

NATO ships will continue provocations near the Black Sea borders of the Russian Federation until July 10. The bigger the unprecedented Sea Breeze 2021 military exercise unfolds, the more obvious the real purpose of these exercises becomes. Their direct witnesses frankly formulate it as follows: “Poke a Russian bear with a stick.” True, they do not hide their surprise – the bear, it turns out, responds in kind.

Many would argue with the claim that the current Sea Breeze exercise is unprecedented. After all, they have long since become a routine, since 1997 they have been held almost annually (in some years, Ukrainian politicians and residents of Crimea tore them down). And in 1998 Russia even took part in them – there were such times. But (for comparison), eight countries took part in the first exercises, and 32 countries took part in the current ones , including completely exotic ones, previously not seen in this region: Brazil , Japan , South Korea , Egypt , Tunisia and others.

Moreover, the officials themselves, representing these exercises, do not hide their anti-Russian orientation. Thus, American naval officers, commenting on the recent incident with the British destroyer Defender, stressed that “the Black Sea does not belong to Russia.” They chose a dangerous way to prove their arguments.

The brave statements of NATO officers are in stark contrast to the clamor that the West has recently made about Russian exercises – on Russian territory. This was especially noted by Vladimir Putin on his direct line : “I gave an order to the Ministry of Defense to finish quietly and withdraw the troops if someone is so worried. We did it. But instead of reacting positively to this and say: okay, okay. , we understood your reaction to our outrage – instead, what did they do? They pushed to our borders. “

The Russian president clearly outlined the goals and objectives pursued by the British gamble, organized in close coordination with the Americans: “It was obvious that the destroyer entered and, firstly, pursuing military goals, trying to uncover the actions of our Armed Forces with the help of a reconnaissance aircraft. suppression of such provocations, I looked at what is turned on, how it works, where is what is located. ” Surely the same targets were faced by the Dutch frigate Evertsen, which also checked the reaction of the Russian fleet and aviation to the movement towards the Kerch Strait .

What, of course, is worth paying special attention to is the presence on the warships participating in provocations in the Azov and Black Seas , quite significant information support brigades. At the moment of its entry into Russian territorial waters, the Defender appeared as if “by accident” with journalists from the BBC and the Daily Mail. Several stories from the Ukrainian boats were filmed by CNN groups . That is, the West is not only testing the capabilities of our defense in the Black Sea basin, but is also expanding the information war against Russia.

True, such openness leads to outright inconsistencies. For example, the BBC story revealed the lie of the British Ministry of Defense, which initially denied the fact that the Russian military opened warning fire along the route of the destroyer. The British media, of course, did not dare to openly accuse their military of lying, but uncomfortable questions began to be asked.

And then the facts of frank manipulations with the signals of the Automatic Identification System (AIS), designed to warn about the course of the ships, were also revealed. It turned out that on the eve of the provocations by Defender and Evertsen, something inexplicable was happening with the signals of these ships. On the night of June 19, judging by the AIS data, they suddenly left the pier in Odessa and headed directly to Sevastopol . In this case, the warships actually remained in place .

There is no doubt that this was also a test of the defense system of the Russian Crimea. In the end, this happened on the eve of the provocations of these ships against Russia. Accordingly, NATO members decided in such an unsafe way to work out in advance the Russian reaction to a potential invasion of our waters. But of course, the British Ministry of Defense was quick to blame Russia for these manipulations . True, without explaining how Moscow foresaw the actions of the British and Dutch ships.

And here it is necessary to highlight the main problem for the governments of those countries that have decided to “poke a Russian bear with a stick.” Judging by the reaction of some media and analysts, these provocations were met with great concern. Particularly indicative is the reaction of the British press, which in recent years has never publicly questioned even the openly false and contradictory statements of its government, special services, and even more so the military regarding Russia and China . And suddenly a whole series of statements follows, in which the actions of Her Majesty’s fleet in the Black Sea are not only commented with caution, but also openly criticized.

Very revealing, for example, is an article by the veteran of British journalism Peter Hitchens, who called the trick of his fleet in the Black Sea “stupidity” and “almost crazy.” He asked readers to imagine a similar situation : a Russian warship with journalists on board invades the waters of the Falkland Islands , having received prior permission from Argentina , which considers these islands to be its own. One can imagine London’s reaction .

No less significant is the letter from the former British ambassador to Russia, Tony Brenton (certainly not a “friend of Moscow”), published on the pages of The Times, loyal to the government. “I do not agree that it was the Russians who provoked the confrontation,” the diplomat wrote , calling his fleet’s actions “counterproductive.” It should be noted that we are observing a very unusual phenomenon for recent years.

But the surest sign of internal opposition against London’s Black Sea adventure is the leaks that are taking place around it. The press leaked the “dissenting opinion” of Foreign Minister Dominik Raab , who warned the military about the risks of an adventure off the coast of Crimea. Some “sources in the Ministry of Defense” anonymously reported to the press that the final approval of the plan of provocation with Defender was personally made by Boris Johnson – a clear attempt to shift responsibility from the military to politicians. Moreover, the reasoning when making the most dangerous decision is striking: “You must continue to do this, otherwise Crimea will become Russia.” Someone in Whitehall wants to land a ground assault near Balaklavaand repeat the “attack of light cavalry” – after all, in agreement with Ukraine , which, from the point of view of London, still “owns Crimea.”

And the apotheosis of this opposition was “forgotten at the bus stop” secret documents of the Ministry of Defense on planning an operation near Sevastopol. Nobody believes in the chance of this find. It is not even the discovery of the files that is indicative, but the fact that they were immediately published by the state-owned BBC , which is always extremely careful with the publication of documents sensitive to state security. That is, someone in the highest circles really wanted these papers, testifying to the deliberate provocation of the British military in the Black Sea, to become public. And this cannot but rejoice – after all, there is a chance that the “hawks” in London, meeting resistance from their own colleagues, will somewhat subdue.

By the way, the Dutch press also comment on the adventures of their frigate near the Kerch Strait with extreme caution. And the NRC newspaper, which has always harshly criticized Moscow and Beijing , came out with a devastating article condemning similar provocations that NATO ships (with the participation of the same USA , Britain and the Netherlands ) are now preparing against China.

These signals set up a certain optimism. The risk of a third world war, which the Western media started talking about after the Sevastopol incident with the Defender, is still sobering to some hotheads. Many there still understand that staff or diplomatic games are preferable to direct armed confrontation. We can only hope that this understanding will prevail over the adventurous plans to test the limits of the “Russian bear’s” patience during the Sea Breeze exercises. After all, a bearish response will be decisive and tough.

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