UK Agrees to Sell Ukraine Warships, Missiles Amid Increasing NATO Military's Black Sea Presence
18:13 GMT 18.11.2021 (Updated: 15:16 GMT 28.05.2023)
The alliance's strategic bombers and warships have been regular guests in the Black Sea since 2014, when relations started to deteriorate between the NATO members and Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin said some of the NATO bombers had at times come as close as 20 kilometres away from the Russian borders.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has given a green light to an arms deal with Ukraine for lethal weapons despite Western countries previously claiming they would not be selling such armaments to Kiev. The sale mostly focuses on boosting Ukraine's naval capabilities and will be paid via a loan that became available to Kiev after signing an exports treaty with London earlier in November.
The arms deal includes the sale of two mine countermeasure ships and the joint production of eight missile warships, as well as a frigate. In addition to it, London would help Ukraine build naval infrastructure and would upgrade some of its existing vessels' weapon systems.
The defence ministers of the two countries, Ben Wallace and Oleksii Reznikov, made no secret of the prime goal of the new arms deal and the fact that it was aimed against Russia.
"Our governments have no desire to be adversarial, or seek in any way to strategically encircle or undermine the Russian Federation".
Kiev, London and other western countries repeatedly accused Russia of posing a threat to the security of Ukraine and other neighbouring countries. Moscow, however, repeatedly rejected allegations and insisted on being a peaceful nation. It further rebuked Western countries for routinely carrying out military flights and sending ships close to its borders. In his latest address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that NATO's strategic bombers fly as close as 20 kilometres away from Russian borders.
The Black Sea region around the Crimean Peninsula became one of the main sources of tensions on the matter due to Western countries not recognising the results of the 2014 referendum that led to the peninsula joining Russia following a coup in Ukraine. NATO and Kiev insist on calling Crimea an "occupied territory".
13 November 2021, 11:52 GMT
NATO routinely sends its ships close to these waters that Moscow sees as part of its territory, while one British warship outright violated them in June 2021. Reports based on alleged Defence Ministry's documents suggested it was a deliberate action. The Kremlin condemned such actions and warned that they might one day lead to serious incidents.