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Team Biden's inaction set stage for UK-Russia confrontation in Black Sea

HMS Defender arrives at the Black Sea port of Odessa.
FPI / July 1, 2021

Excerpts from an analysis by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs correspondents in the Black Sea and Balkan regions

The failure of the Biden administration to respond with resolve and dexterity to the first Russian “tests” of it in March-April of this year guaranteed an escalation of maneuvering between Russia and the U.S. and its allies until equilibrium could be established.

That escalation came to a head off the Crimean coast on June 23.

In the meantime, all thought of attempting to keep Russia strategically out of a tight cooperative strategic alliance with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) now seems to have been abandoned by Washington and Whitehall.

Moscow’s “second test” of incoming U.S. President Joe Biden came with Russian (and international) monitoring of his performance at the 47th G7 (Group of Seven nations) Summit in Cornwall, UK, June 11-13; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels, on June 14; and Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in Geneva.

Each of these three major performances encouraged Russia to believe that it could maintain a strong position vis-à-vis strategic posturing in relation to the U.S. and its allies.

It became clear to policy officials in the United Kingdom that it would be left to the UK to re-assert Western attitudes toward Russia, and particularly Russian expansion in the Black Sea, and for the UK to determine the strength of Russian confidence and resolve, while demonstrating that there was, in fact, a strong Western position and decisiveness facing Russia.

Russia has long been on a major energy offensive, not only in Europe but also in other continents.

Russia’s energy policy is linked to political demands and pressures. Some EU countries, such as Germany, publicly point out that Russia’s policy is harmful, but at the same time build major pipelines with Russia, such as the recently-completed (June 4) $11-billion Nordstream 2 project.

Operation Ditroite, a UK military operation planned and agreed by the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ), Britain’s tri-service headquarters at Northwood, near London, was formed with the U.S., to take advantage on June 23 of the presence in the Black Sea of a Royal Navy warship visit to Ukraine.

The plan was for the warship to depart Odessa (Ukraine) and then sail through waters off Russian-occupied Crimea, some 12 miles (19km) offshore, and therefore — under UK and U.S. terms — within Ukrainian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters, with the destination stated as Batumi, Georgia.

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FPI, Free Press International
hmsdef by N/A is licensed under Reuters N/A

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