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Boris Johnson Defies Vladimir Putin's Claim to Crimea
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About that clash between a British destroyer and Russian warplanes and warships in the Black Sea last week there are conflicting versions.

The Kremlin version is the more dramatic.

HMS Defender, says Moscow, entered the Black Sea, made port in Odessa, Ukraine, and then sailed for Batumi on the coast of Georgia.

However, the British warship traversed Russia’s territorial waters at the tip of the Crimean peninsula, near Sevastopol, Russia’s principal naval base on the Black Sea.

The destroyer, say the Russians, had to be diverted by shellfire from a patrol boat and bombs dropped in its path by Sukhoi fighters.

London’s version: Defender sailed through waters off Crimea that belong to Ukraine. Russian gunfire was far off and unthreatening. No dropped bombs impeded the destroyer’s passage.

Yet, according to The New York Times, BBC correspondent Jonathan Beale, who was on board Defender, has “published video footage showing as many as 20 Russian warplanes buzzing the ship and a Russian Coast Guard vessel drawing close alongside.”

In brief, this naval encounter was serious business.

Defender’s captain, Cmdr. Vince Owen, made it clear his ship sailed close by Crimea deliberately “to assert the position that Crimea and the waters around it legally belong to Ukraine.”

Added Owen: “The Royal Navy and U.K. will always call out states that do not follow international order.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov described Defender’s actions as a “deliberate and premeditated provocation.” Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that the next time a provocation like this occurs, Russia “may drop bombs and not just in the path but right on target.”

With the incident over, where do Downing Street and the Kremlin stand now?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government and the Royal Navy have declared it to be their right to use warships to send a message to Moscow that Crimea belongs to Kyiv. Moscow has responded: Send that message again, and you may find your warship at the bottom of the Black Sea.

This is not an unserious matter.

If the Brits repeat this exercise, which they see as a right, a duty and a mission, we could witness a Russian attack on a British warship.

This would trigger Article 5 of the NATO treaty that requires all member nations to treat an attack on one as an attack on all.

Britain’s challenge to Russia, a few kilometers off Crimea, could have resulted in a shooting incident that could have forced a U.S. response against Russia. And that raises some serious questions:

Did Johnson inform us he was about to issue this direct challenge to Moscow? Or were the Americans left in the dark?

Did President Joe Biden or the Pentagon tell Johnson that if Defender were attacked, U.S. forces would have their back?


With this clash off Crimea, a peninsula Russia regards as vital and we have never regarded as vital, we could have been drawn into a conflict by our ally, Britain, which could not prevail against Vladimir Putin’s Russia without the military assistance of the United States.

There is another matter that makes this problematic.

To reach the Black Sea, Defender peeled off from a flotilla centered on the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, which is in the Mediterranean.

That flotilla is headed to the Indo-Pacific region and likely to traverse the South China Sea, whose islets, reefs and rocks are the claimed national territories of China.

Are the British warships going to emulate the U.S. naval challenges to China’s claims to those tiny pieces of land in the South China Sea?

Also, Monday was the first day of the 12-day Exercise Sea Breeze 2021 in the Black Sea, hosted by the U.S. Sixth Fleet and Ukrainian navy.

These exercises have been held yearly since the end of the 20th century, and the 2021 roster of participants is the largest yet

The exercises will involve 32 nations, 32 ships, 5,000 troops and 40 planes. Among the participants are 17 NATO nations, including all three NATO allies on the Black Sea — Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey — and two aspiring NATO nations on the Black Sea — Ukraine and Georgia.

Are warships from any of these 32 nations going to follow the example of HMS Defender and sail close to the Russian naval base of Sevastopol? Are the Brits going to challenge Putin’s claim to Crimea again? Or will they, chastened, avoid a confrontation?

The U.S. does not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, but we have not threatened or used force to alter that reality.

For no vital U.S. interest is imperiled in Russia’s control of Crimea and its 2 million people. After all, czarist and Bolshevik Russia controlled that peninsula from the time of Catherine the Great to the time of Mikhail Gorbachev.

The U.S. should tell Boris Johnson that if he wants to provoke the Russian navy in the Black Sea, he should not assume that, if a collision comes, the U.S. Sixth Fleet will pull his chestnuts out of the fire.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Boris Johnson, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin 
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  1. Classic, faux dissidence to help erase from history the Nuland & Pyatt Cookie Coup and subsequently expressed will of Crimeans to request annexation by Russia, suggest that the British may be mongering naval war independent of Uncle Sam, etc.

    I had wondered downthread under his last whether this one was going to be published here. Why the delay?

  2. BoJo is a typical Brit elite scumbag. A pedophile, piece of sh\$t doenmeh jew boy.

    I predict BoJo will be chopped into pieces by enrage men with machetes, irate from having watched friends and family die from the mRNA death jabs.

    He is beyond filth, beyond vermin.

    • Replies: @rpb
  3. No way the Brits did this on their own; Biden probably got Boris Johnson to test Russia by sailing HMS Defender in Crimean waters so Johnson and Britain would be humiliated and not Biden and the US; we cancelled plans to send two warships into the Black Sea in April; if the Ruskkies had sunk that Brit ship we wouldnt have gone to war; we would have called an emergency meeting and slapped more sanctions on Moscow; its time for us to face a lot of realities; NATO is an irrelevant artifact of history; Russia is not going to return Crimea and Ukraine and Georgia are not vital allies and are not joining NATO.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    , @nass
  4. @Max Maxwell

    About that clash between a British destroyer and Russian warplanes and warships in the Black Sea last week there are conflicting versions.

    It’s taken Buchanan a week to write about it. Not much urgency there. If it were really important, he would have written about it the very day. The lack of of urgency is indicative of its unimportance. Its just one more provocation of Russia by the West. At the same time, Nordstream 2 is being completed, the US continues to buy even more oil from Russia and Russia continues to reorient its trade towards China. Provocative posturings from the West will continue, but will have no consequences in the real world.

    • Agree: Max Maxwell
  5. Did Johnson inform us he was about to issue this direct challenge to Moscow? Or were the Americans left in the dark?

    This author’s intriguing question is disappointingly naive. It undermines the credibility of the remaining analysis.

    President Putin himself is under no illusions whatsoever – the Americans were intimately involved in the planning and execution of this provocation. Any notion that Britain was acting, or indeed ever acts, independent of their American masters is wishful thinking.

  6. A needless provocation.

  7. nass says:
    @Max Maxwell

    Remember as well, Putin mentioned that US military surveillance aircraft took off from Crete early in the morning to monitor Russia’s response to the Defender’s provocation. USA and UK are in this from the get go. All else are just noises

    • Agree: Max Maxwell
  8. Be nice if these “leaders” the world over could just recognize the principles of “nationalism” and “just leaving people the hell alone”.

    Even beyond the whole “vital interests” stuff–none for the West there….

    Obvious from election results, that the people of Crimea overwhelmingly would rather be part of Russia. So cut the crap. On the flip side–just my guess–it’s likely that some of the territory seized in the Donbass–more rural–has people who’d rather be in the Ukraine. Likewise Chechnya–pointless stupid war by Russia to maintain empire. (Who the heck wants Chechens anyway? Stupid.)

    We’ve seen this shit from basically everyone down through the ages. Brits: the Boers. Ireland. India …; US: Civil War. Philippines. Vietnam, Iraq; Pakistan: Bangladesh; India: Kashmir. China: Tibet. Hong Kong. Not to mention all really big wars–always some people wanting to push around other people. The list of busy-bodying imperial nonsense is endless. Only occasionally do you see reason/sanity/maturity–Czechs and Slovaks politely getting a divorce.

    I’m more than ready for a divorce here in the US–Americans from Rainbowistas. Don’t need those busy body a*holes.

    Let people vote for their polity–help people move around as necessary–and accept it. Happier world.

    Just … leave people the \$#@% alone.

  9. bayviking says:

    Crimea is vital to the national security of Russia. Everyone knows that. The only purpose of the endless propaganda and provocation is to attempt to delegitimize Russia in general and Putin in particular.

  10. next up for BJ and Co:

  11. Crimea belongs to Russia….The US Military illegally occupies Syria and Cuba…

    I would be delighted if England….the Nation that gave homosexual pederast child rapist rock star Pete Townshend a free pass…thermonuclear burned to the ground by Russia…

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