On May 16th, a British Navy patrol ship entered the Black Sea.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has started tracking the British Royal Navy’s HMS Trent patrol vessel, the Russian Defense Ministry’s National Defense Management Center reported.
“The forces and means of the Black Sea Fleet have started tracking the activities of the Trent patrol vessel of the British Navy, which entered the Black Sea waters on May 16,” the statement said.
On May 11th, the report said the Black Sea Fleet started keeping a close eye on the French Navy’s patrol ship Commandant Birot, which had entered the Black Sea.
This is the scope of the support that NATO is providing Ukraine, so far.
Back in mid-April, reports surfaced that British warships will sail for the Black Sea in May amid rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
This was according to unnamed Navy officials, cited by the Sunday Times.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence told the Times, “The UK and our international allies are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
They added, “We are working closely with Ukraine to monitor the current situation and continue to call on Russia to de-escalate.
“Our armed forces continue to support Ukraine through our training mission Operation Orbital, which has trained over 20,000 members of the armed forces of Ukraine, and the UK-led Maritime Training Initiative.”
According to the report from mid-April, Britain is sending a Type 45 destroyer, equipped with anti-aircraft missiles, and an anti-submarine Type 23 frigate. F-35B Lightning stealth jets and Merlin helicopters based on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier will be on standby to provide support—an international treaty currently prohibits aircraft carriers themselves from entering the Black Sea.
None of that has taken place by mid-May.
The UK already has special forces and Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft deployed to the region. An SAS special forces team and Royal Signals electronic unit were officially sent to Ukraine in early April, alongside a US special operations team, to “monitor Russian activity”. Six RAF Typhoon jets, armed with Paveway bombs and Brimstone missiles, have been despatched to Romania as part of a NATO “air policing mission” to patrol the Black Sea region.
Russia responded to the news that US warships were on their way with a statement warning of a high likelihood of serious “incidents”. Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said, “There is absolutely nothing for American ships to be doing near our shores, this is purely a provocative action. Provocative in the direct sense of the word: they are testing our strength… They will not succeed.
“We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast. It will be for their own good.”
There are currently more than a dozen Russian naval vessels on deployment in the Black Sea. Fifty Russian fighter jets, bombers and attack aircraft are engaged in “exercises over the Black Sea”, according to Russian news organisation Interfax, including “missile launches and bombardment of naval targets.” The Russian air force and Black Sea fleet are also scheduled to carry out joint exercises designed to “ensure security in the Black Sea”.
Ultimately, only a single Guard Coast vessel from the US made it to the Black Sea.
As such, Ukraine continues waiting for the warships to come and help it, while it gets patrol and coast guard vessels that will provide the minimum notion of support.
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