Russia's warning to as it attacks 'mock enemy' off of Crimea

Russia's warning to as it attacks 'mock enemy' off of Crimea

October 26, 2021

Russia’s warning to US and Britain as it attacks ‘mock enemy’ off of Crimea four months after Royal Navy incident in same stretch of water

  • Russia issued a warning to the US and Britain to keep their distance from Crimea
  • A video showed a Russian war game involving an attack on a ‘mock enemy’
  • 20 warships and auxiliary vehicles were involved in the latest Russian exercises
  • Comes four months after HMS Defender was warned away from the region

Russia has issued a chilling warning to the US and Britain after holding another set of war games and attacking a ‘mock enemy’ in the waters surrounding Crimea.  

A Russian navy video shows missiles firing from the frigate Admiral Grigorovich and coastal anti-ship weapon systems against a ‘mock enemy’.

Some 20 warships and auxiliary vessels were involved in the latest exercises in and close to the Black Sea peninsula, annexed by Russia from Ukraine seven years ago.

The footage shows both Bal and Utes missile systems deployed in major drills off naval port Sevastopol.

A Black Sea Fleet video shows missile firing from frigate Admiral Grigorovich and coastal anti-ship weapon systems against a ‘mock enemy’

Some 20 warships and auxiliary vessels were involved in the latest exercises in and close to the Black Sea peninsula, annexed by Russia from Ukraine seven years ago

The crew of the frigate fired a Shtil anti-aircraft missile to strike down a Progress target missile mimicking an enemy attack, said reports.

It was hit at a distance of 25 miles, said the fleet.

Bal missile systems were deployed to destroy ‘a naval group of a simulated enemy’ both close and far from the coast, according to a TASS report citing naval sources.

This was the second week of war games in the area.

The video footage showed a number of different missile launchers firing rockets off out to sea during the war game

Close-up shots captured the missile launcher preparing to fire at the ‘mock enemy’

Britain has led NATO forces in sending patrols – including US and Dutch warships – close to Crimea.

In June, Russia even opened fire when the Royal Navy destroyed HMS Defender sailed off Crimea in a deliberate act of support for Ukraine.

A FSB security service coast guard vessel fired shots in the direction of the UK warship, claiming the vessel had sailed into Russian territorial waters.

Moscow also claimed to have dropped bombs from an Su-24 warplane in a bid to push the British ship away from the Crimean coast.

In June, Russia even opened fire when the Royal Navy destroyed HMS Defender sailed off Crimea in a deliberate act of support for Ukraine

Russia released footage filmed from one of its Su-24M attack jets which showed HMS Defender sailing off Crimea – but not the moment it alleges shots were fired and four bombs were dropped 

A major diplomatic incident followed in which Boris Johnson defended the show of support for Ukraine as ‘entirely right’.

But there were Russian threats, including one from Mikhail Popov, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, to sink the next Royal Navy warship to sail in the same waters.

The British warship, a Type 45 Destroyer, exercised what London said were internationally recognised freedom of navigation rules in Ukrainian territorial waters. 

Russia protested strongly against the British move at the time with a coastguard vessel firing warning shots and summoned the British ambassador for an explanation.

A FSB security service coast guard vessel fired shots in the direction of the UK warship (circled), claiming the vessel had sailed into Russian territorial waters

Following the incident involving the HMS Defender (pictured), there were Russian threats, including one from Mikhail Popov, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, to sink the next Royal Navy warship to sail in the same waters

Popov, in an interview in the state Rossiiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, said Britain’s behaviour and its subsequent reaction to the incident was ‘bewildering’.

In particular, he criticised suggestions from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, the foreign minister, that the incident could be repeated.

‘Similar actions will be thwarted with the harshest methods in future by Russia regardless of the violator’s state allegiance. We suggest our opponents think hard about whether it’s worth organizing such provocations given the capabilities of Russia’s armed forces,’ said Popov.

‘It’s not the members of the British government who will be in the ships and vessels used for provocational ends,’ he added. 

‘And it’s in that context that I want to ask a question of the same Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab – what will they say to the families of the British sailors who will get hurt in the name of such ‘great’ ideas?’.

Won by conquest, given away as a ‘gift’, now occupied by force: Russia’s history in Crimea and the Black Sea

Prince Grigory Potemkin, who established the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea in 1783

The Black Sea – and the Crimean peninsula which juts into it – are a strategic crossroads between Europe, the Middle East and Asia which has been contested by Empires and nations for centuries.

The sea itself contains vital trading routes, is bordered by five of Russia’s near-neighbours, and today hosts vital energy pipelines and fibre optic cables.

For Russia to assert power in the waters, control of Crimea – which contains its main Black Sea port at Sevastopol and controls the Kerch Strait leading to the nearby Sea of Azov – is essential. 

Crimea has, at one time or another, come under the control of the Greeks, Persians, Romans, Mongols, Ottomans.

It was not until 1783 that it fell fully under the control of the Russian Empire when Russian generals Alexander Suvorov and Mikhail Kamensky led a force of 8,000 men to victory against an Ottoman army of 40,000 at the the Battle of Kozludzha.

Russia’s Prince Grigory Potemkin quickly established the Russian Black Sea Fleet at the port of Sevastopol, from where he asserted naval power over the Black Sea, it neighbours including Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey, and projected power further into the Mediterranean.

Crimea also turned into a key trading post. On the eve of World War 1 in 1914 – some 50 per cent of all Russia’s exports and a full 90 per cent of its agricultural exports passed through Bosphorus Strait which leads out of the Black Sea. 

In 1954 Crimea was given as a ‘gift’ by Nikita Khrushchev to Ukraine, ostensibly to mark the 300th anniversary of Ukraine’s merger with Tsarist Russia, but more likely to secure Ukraine’s support for Khrushchev’s leadership and to cement Ukraine as part of the Soviet Union.

Because Ukraine was then part of the Union, Moscow maintained control over Crimea and its vital ports – at least until 1991 when the union collapsed and Ukraine became and independent county.

Following Ukraine’s independence, access to the peninsula became a bargaining chip between the two nations, with Ukraine recognising Russia’s right to the port at Sevastopol in return for concessions such as writing off debts and taking control of part of the Black Sea fleet.

But in 2014, the pro-Moscow government of Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in a popular uprising that wanted to draw the country closer to Europe.

Fearing the loss of the port at Sevastopol, Putin marched troops into Crimea and seized control of it – later holding a ‘referendum’ which showed majority support for the region to become part of Russia, though the result is viewed as far from credible.

Today, Moscow is in control of the peninsula and refers to it as part of its territory, though most world bodies refer to the region as ‘occupied Crimea’.

The Black Sea Fleet remains one of Russia’s largest and most formidable, thought to comprise a total of 47 ships, seven submarines and 25,000 troops, mostly marines.

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