Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 24 June 2021
Russia Feels Concerned By UK-Ukraine Military Cooperation
An incident off the Crimean coast that involved the HMS Defender, a Royal Navy destroyer, and Russian vessels outlined the ever-bigger role of the United Kingdom in supporting Ukraine in the Black Sea. It was aboard the British destroyer that took part in the incident alongside FSB patrol boats that representatives of Ukraine and the United Kingdom inked a memorandum to implement maritime projects.
The HMS Defender was traveling across the Black Sea from Ukraine to Georgia on June 23 and approached territorial waters off Crimea. Russian FSB patrol boats tried to turn back the British vessel but it moved away from the Russian ships and made a planned maneuver, crossing the zone to which Russia claims its right although it belongs to Ukraine as almost all countries around the world refused to recognize Russian annexation of Crimea. The incident, which Russia made public, confirms Britain’s ever-growing commitment to cooperate with Ukraine. The UK seems to be a NATO member to shoulder most responsibility for strengthening the defense of the Ukrainian coast¬¬––so far the weakest link in Kyiv’s ongoing clash with Moscow. The HMS Defender had arrived in Odesa a few days before and had taken part in joint military drills with the Ukrainian Navy. On June 21, officials from Ukraine and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of implementation on maritime partnership projects between the two countries aboard the Royal Navy destroyer. Under the deal, the United Kingdom will offer its support to build vessels for the Ukrainian Navy and construct two naval facilities. Ukraine and the United Kingdom forged close military cooperation after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had flown to the United Kingdom last fall. A €1.4 billion worth of deal was then signed to build eight new military vessels for the Ukrainian Navy. Possibly the agreement will allow the UK to provide eight Barzan-class fast attack crafts to Ukraine. The first two ships would be constructed in the UK with the remaining six vessels to be completed in Ukraine. When President Zelensky flew to the United Kingdom in October, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to cooperate with Ukraine to counter what he named “harmful influence” from Russia and pledged British support for Ukraine’s defense and security. A highlight of the state visit was the signing of the deal on political and strategic partnership as well as free trade between the two nations.
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