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The UK-Russia Confrontation in the Black Sea: A Threatening Danger

The UK-Russia Confrontation in the Black Sea: A Threatening Danger


On Wednesday, a British warship entered waters claimed by Russia near Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula. A Russian border patrol boat fired several warning shots and a Russian fighter jet bombarded the path of the British destroyer HMS Defender, Moscow said. The Kremlin has since released images of the incident. The British government denies that the Russian side fired shots and dropped a bomb, and insists that this incident should not be made much of.


The UK-Russia Confrontation in the Black Sea: A Threatening Danger
An F-35 fighter takes off from the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, June 20, 2021 (AP Photo / Petros Karadjias)


However, the Kremlin summoned British Ambassador Deborah Bronnert to the Foreign Office and issued a protest note to the British military attaché. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that if such an event happened again, "we could bomb ... on target".


Wednesday's confrontation in the Black Sea underscores the enormous danger of war and serves as a serious warning. Similar incidents have led to the outbreak of wars in the past.


The Black Sea crisis is the result of the imperialist encirclement of Russia by the United States for decades after the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Imperialist interventions and military reinforcement at Russia's borders have escalated dramatically in 2014, when the US and EU supported a far-right coup in Kiev that toppled the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych. This coup sparked a civil war in Donbass, eastern Ukraine, and Russia's annexation of Crimea.


In February, the Ukrainian government announced its intention to “reclaim Crimea” and Donbass, causing a major military crisis in the region. In May, NATO organized the massive Defender 2021 exercise in the Balkan and Black Sea region, in which non-NATO countries Ukraine and Georgia participated.


Under these conditions, the actions of the British ship HMS Defender had the character of a provocation. The ship was in the Black Sea in preparation for the Sea Breeze naval exercise scheduled to take place from June 28 to July 10. Organized jointly by the US and Ukrainian navies, this exercise will bring together 32 countries, 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft and 18 special operations. The Kremlin has called on the United States to cancel the exercise, warning of a military confrontation that could arise unintentionally.


Senior officials from the Ukrainian and British governments, including the Ukrainian deputy defense minister and the British defense procurement minister, were aboard HMS Defender on Wednesday. They signed an important bilateral naval agreement that day which provides for substantial military aid from Britain to the Ukrainian navy and the establishment of new naval bases in the Black Sea.


Stressing the gravity of the crisis, British Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood told British radio: “We have to recognize that this is a dangerous game. From Russian Su-24 planes flying over ships, there is a great chance that an accident will happen. That misinterpretation leads to true kinetic engagement, and it might be some time before someone grabs the red phone and calms things down. " Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said: “This situation is explosive, although all parties remain cautious. Unintentional incidents, which can lead to a real conflict, are not excluded ”.


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions have increased dramatically. Claiming that there is "no money" for the most basic needs of workers and refusing to take any serious steps to stop the pandemic, capitalist governments have increased global military spending in 2020 to reach the amount. staggering two trillion dollars.


US imperialism, in particular, has responded to the pandemic by seeking to divert growing class tensions outward. The Biden government has proposed a record military budget of $ 753 billion for this year, including $ 24.7 billion for nuclear warhead modernization. The UK is increasing its stockpile of nuclear warheads by 40 percent.


While there are signs that the Biden government is trying to ease tensions with Moscow in order to focus on preparations for war against China, foreign policy is the subject of acute conflict within the US ruling class. There are also growing tensions between the imperialist powers and within NATO. The proposal for an EU summit with Russia by the German Angela Merkel and the French Emmanuel Macron has caused major conflicts within the EU.


Whatever the intentions of individuals, shifting alliances and tactical maneuvers, the danger of war is objectively rooted in the crisis of the world capitalist system. In a talk that explained the origins of WWII , David North, Chairman of the WSWS Editorial Board and Chairman of the Socialist Equality Party (US), noted:


It is not necessarily true that the ruling classes want war. But they are not necessarily able to stop it. As Trotsky wrote on the eve of World War II, capitalist regimes are heading straight for disaster with their eyes closed. The insane logic of imperialism and the capitalist nation-state system: of the will to secure access to markets; cheap raw materials and labor; of the relentless pursuit of profit and personal wealth; leads inexorably in the direction of war.


Wednesday's incident came a day after the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. The imperialist war of annihilation of the Nazis claimed the lives of at least 27 million citizens. Soviets, including about 2 million Soviet Jews and more than 3 million Soviet prisoners of war. Yet beyond a few superficial remarks from German politicians, the imperialist powers greeted the anniversary of the start of the bloodiest war in human history with deafening silence.


Writing about the anniversary in the German weekly Die Zeit , President Vladimir Putin first denounced the imperialist aggression in Ukraine in 2014, then focused on the call for cooperation from the European imperialist powers. Putin's regime is the heir to the Stalinist bureaucracy that destroyed the Soviet Union in 1991 and restored capitalism, completing what German imperialism failed to accomplish during World War II. Bitterly hostile to the working class, it relies on a combination of calls for imperialism and the promotion of nationalism within the country.


The only social force capable of fighting imperialist war is the international working class. It finds itself propelled into revolutionary struggles by the same objective contradictions which push imperialism towards war. All over the world, workers are radicalized by decades of austerity, war and the experience of the pandemic, and begin to fight. The crucial task now is to struggle to forge the Trotskyist political leadership of these struggles in the working class through the construction of the International Committee of the Fourth International.


watchincalm
watchincalm
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