Johnson’s imperialist provocation in the Black Sea

Defend the Russian Federation!

Defender filmed from Russian Air Force plane

On 22 June, In a blatantly obvious publicity stunt and military provocation, evidently ordered by Boris Johnson himself, the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender, with a BBC Camera crew and a Daily Mail reporter on board, ostentatiously sailed through the territorial waters of Crimea, which has been part of Russia for most of its history and certainly since a popular referendum in 2014 secured a massive majority for Crimea becoming part of the Russian Federation, claiming the waters, and Crimea itself, belongs to its client regime in Ukraine. The outcome of the referendum is hardly surprising, since the majority of the population of Crimea is Russian, not Ukrainian.

The Western imperialists refuse to recognise Crimea’s status as part of Russia, and Johnson’s provocation is a further part of the anti-Russian campaign resulting from that. Indeed the whole point of the Western offensive against Russia, even decades after the Soviet workers state collapsed, is to complete what Hitler sought to do to Russia in 1941. Nations and peoples that have the temerity to have ever overthrown capitalism cannot be allowed to go their own way even after a counterrevolution.

Imperialism demands that they be humiliated, crushed, made into totally dependent lackeys of the world imperialist hegemon, the US.  That is why, despite promises made by then-US President George H.W. Bush, to the last Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, that NATO would not be expanded East, NATO has been extended through Eastern Europe all the way to the three Baltic republics of the former USSR – right to the Russia border. Ukraine is to be next. The imperialist-sponsored Ukrainian Maidan coup in 2013 was driven by outright neo-Nazis, admirers of the OUN forces led by Bandera who fought for Hitler against the USSR in the Second World War.

The Defender sailed from Odessa in Ukraine, straight through Crimean (i.e., Russian) territorial waters, just off Sebastopol, which is the headquarters of Russia’s strategic Black Sea naval fleet, on a course towards Georgia. The British government claimed that “The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law”. The Russians, quite rightly, did not see the British ship’s activity as ‘innocent’ at all, and fired a series of warning shots at the ship. Then a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 supersonic fighter-bomber dropped several bombs in the path of the Defender to underline the warning.

The bizarre pretence from the government that this was some kind of ‘innocent passage’, and not a pre-planned provocation designed by Johnson’s government, was equally bizarrely exposed when a bunch of confidential Ministry of Defence documents were somehow lost and found at a bus stop in Kent on the morning of Tuesday, 21st June. Incredibly, these documents discussed the likely impact of a provocation that had not happened yet. Defender’s provocation happened the following day. In the words of the Guardian, the documents “discussed the potential Russian reaction to HMS Defender’s travel through Ukrainian waters off the Crimea coast on Wednesday”. The Guardian comments that the documents reveal that the operation “was conducted in the expectation that the Kremlin might respond aggressively.”:

“Three potential Russian responses were outlined, from ‘safe and professional’ to ‘neither safe nor professional’. On Wednesday, Russia said warning shots had been fired, and that a jet had dropped four bombs in the path of the British destroyer to force it to change course. It emerged that cannon had been fired at a safe distance behind the British warship, while there was no evidence to support the latter claim.”

The Russians released somewhat fragmentary video footage of the incident that shows aspects of threatening confrontation of their craft with the Defender, as well as some activity by Russian aircraft in its vicinity. Its hardly very clear but that is immaterial. The point is that this was a deliberate provocation by the British, and it was designed to ‘test’ the Russian forces’ resolve to defend Crimea’s territorial waters. It was obviously for propaganda purposes which negates the convention of ‘innocent passage’ that the British are trying to use to justify the ship’s presence. Insistence that Crimean waters are ‘Ukrainian’ waters is self-evidently just such a propaganda purpose.

According to what appears to be a freelance military blog called The War Zone/The Drive:

 “While all this was going on, it appears that at least one NATO intelligence-gathering aircraft was monitoring the activities in the area. Publicly available flight-tracking data indicated that a U.S. Air Force RC-135V/W Rivet Joint was airborne off the coast of Crimea, having flown in from Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete.”

If this is accurate, it does cast some light on what the British were up to. Johnson wants to play the jingoistic ‘Global Britain’ card with his pretentions that not only Russia, but also China’s presence in the South China Sea can be dealt with by the British Empire practice of “sending a gunboat”. But that is a joke. Brexit has made Britain even more of a lackey imperialism to the USA than it had been previously.

The British warship was playing a similar role to the South Korean Airliner KAL-007 in September 1983, when it deliberately flew off course above then-Soviet territory in the Far East (Kamchatka and Sakhalin) to trigger off radar and air defences so that an American spy plane could gather data about the defence capabilities of the USSR, then the main degenerated workers state in the world. Now capitalist, but non-imperialist Russia, is still the target of US imperialism, albeit not as a workers’ state but rather a dependent form of capitalism resisting outright subordination to imperialism, similar tactics are still being used by the US against it.

Far from being ‘Global Britain’, Johnson’s absurd and decrepit British Lion is just a Judas Goat for the US. As indeed was and is South Korea. Johnson even overruled the reservations of Raab, his own foreign minister on this. HMS Defender’s task was setting off Russian defences so that the US could hoover up the data. Hardly “ruling the waves”. More like a pilot fish swimming ahead of a shark.

HMS Defender is lucky that it did not share a similar fate to KAL-007 (whose flight number, in the British context, was indicative of its mission). Russia would have had every right to so respond. In imperialism’s current war drive against the bloc of non-imperialist nations in some way resisting imperialist world domination, not just Russia, but also China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and of course the two remaining deformed workers states of Cuba and North Korea, it is in the interests of the world proletariat for the states currently in conflict with imperialism to prevail.

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