Written by Brian Kalman exclusively for SouthFront
UK “media” has bombarded readers with sensational headlines for three days in a row now. What are they saying? Apparently Putin has sent the all-powerful Russian Northern Fleet to saber-rattle its way from its home port of Severomorsk, all the way down the Scottish and English coast. Are the Russians going to invade? Attack the British Isles now that Putin has reconstituted the “Red Menace”? Maybe this is the lynch-pin in Putin’s plan to install his FSB agent Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. You may believe any of the above lunacy if you were gullible enough to swallow this printed rubbish.
I was first assailed on October 18th, by the headline in The Sun, “The Russians are Coming. Vladimir Putin’s nuclear warships pictured steaming towards the English Channel as Royal Navy prepares to scramble fleet.” The Telegraph followed the very next day with their version of the same story, titled “Russia taunts US with biggest military offensive since the cold war.” Just 24 hours later, The Sun doubled down on their hysteria with the follow-up story “Russians In Our Sights. Royal Navy heroes stalk Putin’s nuke fleet as it heads for English Channel – after Russian media mocked our ‘tiny’ and ‘weak’ forces.” After absorbing these three articles in 72 hours, I was left with a clear understanding of how Orwell’s character Winston Smith must have felt while editing propaganda at the Ministry of Truth.
Let’s take a look at some of the falsehoods pushed by the above mentioned articles and dissect some of the terminology in a rational evaluation of what is being communicated. Why do The Sun headlines both use the words “nuclear” and “nuke” to describe the fleet? The article falsely states that the Admiral Kuznetsov is a “nuclear-powered aircraft carrier” when in fact, it is conventionally powered. The Peter the Great guided missile cruiser is nuclear powered for sure, but does this mean it poses a nuclear attack threat to the British Isles? It very well may have some nuclear capable cruise missiles onboard, considering that it is the most powerful surface warfare ship in the world, and the only one of its class currently deployed; however, this one ship does not amount to a strategic nuclear threat to the UK. It would appear obvious to any sane person that the Russian high command does not intend to attack the UK with this one ship, sparking a global nuclear confrontation.
There is an attack submarine accompanying the fleet and its role is a defensive one. It is attached to the fleet to defend the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and the Peter the Great cruiser from other submarines. This is well-established naval doctrine practiced by major navies the world over. Interestingly, all of the articles sighted above include a picture of the fearsome submarine viewed from the surface. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the picture put forth as the actual Sierra Class attack sub in question, is actually that of a Delta Class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). Russia has not deployed an SSBN with the fleet for obvious reasons. It would be pointless to do so. The picture was chosen to mislead the UK public and to instill fear. It helps back up the “nuclear” and “nuke” threat. The picture clearly shows one of the missile hatches open on the submarine to accentuate its intended role. The Russians are coming with nukes to render the British Isles a smoking, lifeless ruin! Basic, crude, but effective propaganda, if the UK public is misinformed and does not care to question the fear that is being peddled to them.
As always, its Putin’s and not Russia’s fleet. Just like it is Putin’s planes in Syria and not the Russia Aerospace Forces. Putin the Boogie Man. Putin the Dictator. Putin will come in the night and steal your children! Remind you of the hooked-nosed, shifty eyed Jews that the Nazi’s warned the German people about? Or maybe the Christians that Nero extoled the fat and happy Roman citizens to persecute and murder, because they set fire to Rome. Oh, wait a minute, Nero set fire to Rome and then blamed it on a convenient scapegoat, the Christians. Just like all of the other scapegoats and boogie men throughout history, the Anglo-American establishment is using Vladimir Putin for the purposes of distraction, obfuscation and fear.
The UK press feigned horrified dismay that Russian warships would actually dare to navigate in international waters from their home port of Severomorsk in the Kola Peninsula, just east of northern Norway, down to the Mediterranean Sea. The Russian Navy has every right to transit international waters from one naval base to another as they see fit, just like any other navy in the world. That is the internationally accepted law. The United States operates ten aircraft carrier strike groups (CSG) and deploys them regularly all over the globe. Where is the outrage? And they actually attack nations with these forces on a regular basis. Hasn’t the United States been chastising China for hampering the “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea? The UK has vessels deployed on a rotational basis in the Mediterranean, off the Horn of Africa, in the Caribbean and many other areas. It is the right of any sovereign nation to exercise innocent passage through international waters, period.
The Sun states:
“The fearsome fleet is headed for Russia’s Mediterranean base in Tartus, Syria. But first, the ships are set to pass through the English Channel in the latest act of sabre-rattling from Moscow. Royal Navy warships are being readied to intercept the fleet which could pass within miles of the British coast.”
How does The Sun propose the fleet of eight vessels transit from Severomorsk to Tartus in a more direct manner? Via the north coast of Siberia, through the Pacific and then through the Suez Canal? The Russian fleet is moving on the most direct and economical route from its origin to its destination, transiting international waters from one Russian naval base to another. The English Channel route is the sheltered, safer route than through the open Atlantic. Apparently the English Channel, one of the most high-traffic waterways on the planet, is now off limits to Russian naval vessels? It may be named after England, but it does not solely belong to the UK. The Russian fleet has every right to transit this waterway under the principal of “innocent passage”. It is not an act of “sabre-rattling”, and yes, they will pass “within miles of the British coast”, as well as within miles of the French Coast, and the Dutch Coast. It is, after all, a constricted waterway.
As if the brazen fear mongering was not enough, the British press fell back on the long established British sense of pride. What better way, other than fear, to arouse the misdirected, blind emotions of the UK public than to belittle the pride of these once Imperial subjects:
“A top Moscow military expert then mocked the ‘tiny’ Royal Navy, which has been tasked with tracking the threat. Britain has been without an aircraft carrier since HMS Illustrious was scrapped in 2014 but will be commissioning the £3.1bn HMS Queen Elizabeth in May 2017. The hi-tech carrier is 280m long and weighs over 70,000 tonnes, eclipsing the 43,000 tonne Kuznetsov.”
“The frigate HMS Richmond and destroyer HMS Duncan will likely shadow the Russian fleet to the Straits of Gibraltar.
But dismissive Khrolenko poured scorn on “what little remains of the Royal Navy”.”
Alexander Khrolenko, writing for Ria Novosti, was probably mocking the diminutive size of the Royal Navy to some degree, but it also must be noted that the Royal Navy is smaller in size today than it has ever been. The UK learned a hard lesson during the Falklands War, that a nation that has sovereign territories scattered across the globe must maintain a viable navy if it hopes to secure these possessions. Britain was forced to press a number of commercial vessels into service to successfully fight that war. Apparently this lesson was forgotten. In a similar fashion to the U.S. Navy, the Royal Navy has been plagued by new and high-tech ship designs that have experienced cost overruns and major mechanical problems. This includes the $1.4 billion USD Type 45 guided missile destroyers and the yet to be commissioned HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) aircraft carrier, which will most likely cost over $3.5 billion USD. The Royal Navy hopes to begin flight operations on their new carrier in 2020. This means that the Royal Navy has been left without an aircraft carrier for the first time since the commissioning of the HMS Argus in 1918.
In closing, it must be pointed out that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) had announced the planned deployment of the Admiral Kuznetsov to the Mediterranean Sea in support of the ongoing operations in Syria months ago. Southfront has been reporting on these developments for quite some time. The movement of this fleet should not have been a surprise to the Royal Navy, while the articles hype the assertion that the navy was “scrambled” to intercept the Russian warships. The fleet had already been shadowed by Royal Norwegian Navy vessels the previous week, and the US announced the dispatch of the Arleigh Burke Class DDG USS Carney in response to the Russian naval deployment, to reinforce the USS Ross, already on station with the French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, which is carrying out strike missions against targets in Syria and Iraq. Yes, you read that correctly, NATO did the exact same thing that Russia is now being vilified for, having sent an aircraft carrier and accompanying vessels to the Mediterranean from Western Europe. Did Vladimir Putin or the Russian MOD accuse France or NATO of saber rattling? No, they actually welcomed the move by France, and offered to aid the French carrier strike group in the region in attacks against Islamic State.
Hopefully, the UK public will be able to see through the blatant propaganda being peddled to them by their mainstream media outlets. In a rational world, the media would simple report the pre-announced passage of a fleet of Russian vessels through international waters, on their way to combat the internationally recognized terrorist groups that have been illegally fighting to depose the legitimate government of Syria. Unfortunately, the mainstream media in the West abandoned reason and truth a long time ago.
Brian Kalman is a management professional in the marine transportation industry. He was an officer in the US Navy for eleven years. He currently resides and works in the Caribbean.