Russian warning shots on the British destroyer “HMS Defender” made headlines. Surprisingly uncovered secret documents are now shedding new light on the incident.
Munich – Embarrassing mishap in Great Britain: highly sensitive documents have been found behind a bus stop that reveal London’s stance on the Crimean incident with the “HMS Defender”. The finder had discovered them in Kent, England, and went to the BBC cleverly. Though soggy, they were legible and, as the Department of Defense confirmed, real.
There was ridicule and malice from Russia for this: The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Sakharova, wrote on Telegram: “007 agents are no longer what they used to be. Why are ‘Russian hackers’ needed when there are British bus stops? “
Passers-by finds high-security documents behind a bus stop in Kent
What happened? The heart of the dispute is the incident between the British destroyer and Russia in the Black Sea, which made waves on an international level. The ship had penetrated – according to Russia – sovereign waters of Moscow, after which it came, according to Russia, to warning shots of a military ship and bombing of fighter jets, with the purpose of shooing the British out of the waters. The warning shots sold by the British government as a previously announced Russian military exercise were there, according to reports from the BBC and the Daily Mail but really, even if Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that Russia wanted to raise a bear for everyone.
As the nearly 50 pages of documents from the bus stop show, London had expected the incident from the start. It is still completely unclear how they got there until they finally found a passerby. According to the documents, the government had suspected that there would be a Russian reaction to the positioning of the British cruiser. The Russians would have behaved calmly in such cases in the past, but “with a high degree of probability” future answers would be “more frequent and more specific”.
HMS Defender: Secret documents show that alternative route has been refused
An alternative route was therefore also discussed in the papers. But because Great Britain did not want Russia to be able to exploit a change of route as “fear” for propaganda purposes, she decided to risk provocation.
Ultimately, the course should be interpreted as a kind of test of strength: Captain Vincent Owen had made it clear to his crew that it was a matter of enforcing international law. Although Crimea is annexed by Russia, this is classified as illegal under international law. When two Russian ships tried to force the Defender out of Russian territorial waters, Owen is said to have remarked with amusement: “We’re leaving them behind.” Prime Minister Johnson had also said: “It was absolutely right to defend the law and enforce freedom of navigation . “
The course of the “Defender” was en route from Odessa to Georgia. In Odessa she had participated in exercises with US and Ukrainian forces. Another large-scale exercise with 32 countries is to start next Monday. The Russian intervention could also be interpreted as an attempt to prevent the exercise.
Poison arrows between Moscow and London: “Like gorillas”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov accused Great Britain of “deliberate and prepared provocation”. The Russian Foreign Ministry added that the incident could have “very serious consequences.” The British ambassador in the capital Moscow had received a sharp protest note.
There was also criticism of the other side on the island. The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament, Tom Tugendhat, called the Russian approach “criminal”. Tugendhat: “They are like gorillas patting their chests and pretending to be doing something.”
The relationship between the UK and Russia has been frosty for years. Recently, however, both sides had signaled willingness to talk, which is now probably a long way off. (cg)