The British are suddenly in the Kerch Strait – Is this the eve of the long-awaited recognition of Crimea or London’s preparations for an invasion of the Sea of Azov?
The British are suddenly in the Kerch Strait
MilitaryEzyInfo.com | A little fantasy, dear sirs. Imagine SBU fighters storming a Union Jack-flagged cargo ship. Then, threatening to open machine-gun fire, they convey it to Kherson.
how did they catch it?
How the Ukrainian Border Guard Service of Ukraine arrests a British tanker somewhere in Odessa. They brutally interrogate the captain and throw the British sailors behind bars.
I want to believe that this oil painting is very real. The Ukrainian security forces have a solid list of maritime trophies confiscated for voyages to the “occupied peninsula.”
How is the process?
The process began when back in late 2016 they bravely detained the Tanzanian ship Sky Moon on the Danube carrying Crimean soda ash. The crew tried in vain to escape into Romanian waters. Then a Moldovan ship Bospor was seized in the same area. In the port of Yuzhny in Odessa, a Russian land-ship and a Seabreeze dry cargo ship sailing under the “convenient” flag of the Latin American country Belize were arrested. Our tanker Mekhanik Pogodin was stormed and blocked in the port of Kherson. Another Russian tanker “Neima” has been arrested in Ismail. Everyone knows the epic pirate attack on the Crimean seiner “Nord”. The fishermen returned to their native Kerch, but the seiner is still in Ukrainian captivity.
What is the reason?
The reason for all these attacks is the same. The Kyiv regime considers the ports of Russian Crimea blocked and forbidden to visit. That’s why it announced its own right to attack and seize “intruder” vessels that dare to visit Crimean harbors. Ukraine still insists that the peninsula is closed to international navigation. Just towards the end of 2020, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office imposed arrest in absentia on 32 merchant ships that had visited Crimea. The data on them was going to be transferred to Interpol. A special SBU “department” stationed in Kherson was in charge of the investigation.
And suddenly, there was a stunning piece of news from Albion. This year, Great Britain gave its ships an official opportunity to appear near Crimean quays again. So, according to the idea, the brave Ukrainians will now go to board British ships?
British visit Crimea in a pinch
Leaving the European Union, the British decided to exercise their own right to call at Crimean ports “in emergency circumstances”. By ignoring the anti-Crimean sanctions of the EU, the British sailors respectively were able to pay for the use of the infrastructure of the harbors of the peninsula. This has already been confirmed by a general license from Her Majesty’s Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Enforcement. As stated in the license, “individuals may make payments from unfrozen funds in favor of the Crimean Republic State Unitary Enterprise ‘Crimean Sea Ports’ for services provided by the Kerch Fish Port, the Yalta Commercial Port, and the Yevpatoria Commercial Port.
British: Russian Hydrographic Service
The most characteristic detail: crews from the United Kingdom are now allowed to use the services of the Russian State Hydrographic Service, which, among other things, ensures the safety of navigation in the Kerch Strait. That is, in fact, the British are buying from Russia the right of the passage under the Crimean bridge.
Many people rushed to rejoice. They say that in this way official London has weakened sanctions against Russian Crimea, giving a signal to other countries to recognize the republic. They recall Vladimir Putin’s recent words during his annual press conference calling on Western countries to “leave the Crimeans alone” and recognize the results of the 2014 referendum. Although should we be so unambiguously optimistic about the current British overstep?
Indeed, Kerch, Yalta, and Yevpatoria are idle without cargo and work. And consequently without income. With the exception of cabotage shipments, the city-forming ports of Kazakhstan are almost completely frozen. The European sanctions on the entry of cruise ships, yachts, and merchant fleet are very painful for the Crimea. The only real money came from the Kerch crossing. But after the opening of the traffic on the Crimean bridge, the ferries also stopped. As a result: more than three thousand Crimean port workers were fired by 2020.
“The prospect of ships entering under the British flag is extremely important to us. I hope the process of partial removal of sanctions will develop further,” Alexei Volkov, executive director of the Nationwide Union of Hospitality Industry, who was recently the head of the State Unitary Enterprise “Crimean Sea Ports”, told reporters. He is sure that the cargo turnover in the ports of the peninsula is maybe even bigger than it was in Ukrainian times. Again, the new logistics of the Crimean bridge, which allows cargo to be transported by road and rail, should play its role.
Still, it is worth clarifying the details of the current pitfalls. So, the UK has allowed its own fleet to call at the main harbors of Crimea. Moreover, the entire perimeter, from the west coast to the east coast. It is allowed to pay the Russian side for passage through the Kerch Strait, pilotage, and lighthouses. However, ship captains must still notify OFSI (Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation), the Western regulator overseeing compliance with the sanctions regime, of their intention to enter the port or pass under the Crimean bridge.
A dumbfounded President Zelensky has already been reassured by the British ambassador to Kyiv, Melinda Simmons. “We are committed to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and to maintaining sanctions against Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea. Reports of relaxation of British sanctions against Crimea are incorrect,” Ms. Simmons wrote on Twitter. Nevertheless, we emphasize – now they are de facto given the right to navigate the entire Crimean water area.
Allegedly, these will not be British warships. Approximately the same as the Ukrainian Navy’s command ship Donbas and the sea tug Korets, the first “Poroshenko squadron” to receive permission from Russian authorities to pass through the navigable fairway of the Kerch Strait in the fall of 2018. A pair of these rusty, unarmed Navy vessels also paid for a pilot in due course and obediently stood in the generalship queue near Kerch. After that, it passed under the Crimean bridge from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov without any problems.
One may laugh, but it was these “troughs” that became the actual basis of the new Ukrainian naval base in these parts. A subsequent provocation in the strait involved Ukrainian artillery boats, which were stopped by the ships of the FSB Border Guard Service. However, the Donbas had already docked at the Mariupol pier. And the main thing: since then the command of the Navy of Ukraine and almost all Ukrainian leadership repeatedly and persistently states the intention to invite Her Majesty’s Navy to the Sea of Azov “with a friendly visit”.
The only thing that was missing for such a raid was officially organized bases in the same Mariupol and in neighboring Berdyansk. Now this problem is almost solved. Well, the Englishmen themselves are ready to pay a small bribe to the Russian port services in the Crimea to visit their Ukrainian friends in the Azov expanses. And stay there as long as possible.
Remember What Happened
It remains to recall the events of last fall when for the first time a massive paratrooper force of the British Armed Forces landed near the Crimean border. Several hundred paratroopers, including those from the army’s elite Pathfinder platoon, carried out combat missions in the southeast of Mykolaiv Oblast. This is a special reconnaissance unit trained to operate behind enemy lines.
Brigadier General James Martin, commander of the 16th Air Assault Brigade, was one of the first to land with the troops. The landing was a Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules from Mildenhall Air Base, Suffolk. The British were followed by Ukrainian Il-76 and An-26 military transports with units of the AFU Special Operations Forces.
A year ago there was a lot of talk in the State Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan that the ships of the North Atlantic Alliance would never appear in the Sea of Azov. They argued that according to the treaty between Russia and Ukraine, this sea was their common, internal sea. Russia would not give its consent to NATO and would not let NATO ships through the Kerch Strait. Not much time has passed, and the Crimeans are excited about the possibility of saluting the British flag in the Kerch Strait. It’s as if they forgot that Berdyansk in Ukraine is just a stone’s throw away. And they are already finishing deepening the military harbor there, getting ready to receive dear guests.