British Ministry of Defense documents found at a bus stop about the passing of their destroyer near Crimea


27 jun 2021 11:03 GMT

The materials include details on the crossing of the British destroyer HMS Defender, which violated the Russian border, as well as the UK’s military plans for Afghanistan.

Classified documents from the UK Ministry of Defense, containing details on the passage through the Black Sea of ​​the British destroyer HMS Defender, which this Wednesday violated the Russian maritime border, as well as plans on a possible UK military presence in Afghanistan, were found this week by a person behind a bus stop in Kent (England), local media report.

The country’s defense ministry said an employee reported the loss of the documents last week and that the agency opened an investigation into the events. In response to the incident, the Ministry said it “was informed last week of an incident in which sensitive defense documents were recovered by a member of the public. The department takes information security very seriously and has started an investigation, “according to The Guardian. “It would not be appropriate to make more comments,” they stressed from the Ministry.

A person who wished to remain anonymous contacted the BBC when he found the 50 pages classified information, including emails and PowerPoint presentations.

HMS Defender’s mission, nicknamed ‘Op Ditroite’, was the subject of high-level discussions as of Monday, documents show, which appear to reflect officials’ speculation about Russia’s reaction if the ship sailed near Crimea.

In particular, the documents state that the United Kingdom decided to send its destroyer off the coast of Crimea with the aim of show your support for Kiev and show that London is not afraid to navigate waters it considers to be Ukrainian.

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Two options

In the presentation mentioned by the BBC, UK contemplated two options for the passage of the destroyer from Odessa to Batumi. The first was described as “safe and professional”, including the “traffic separation scheme” near the Crimean coast. At the same time, the British Army analyzed various response options from the Russian Fleet and Air Force, ranging from “safe and professional” to “unsafe and unprofessional”.

This route, as noted in the presentation, “provide the opportunity to interact with the Government of Ukraine […] in the territorial waters recognized by the United Kingdom as Ukraine “.

The second version analyzed suggested that the destroyer would pass far from the Crimea, thus avoiding confrontation. However, the Defense Ministry feared that Moscow could consider it as evidence that “the United Kingdom fears or flees” and that it recognizes that these waters belong to Russia.

After weighing all these considerations, the United Kingdom chose the first option.

Violation of the Russian border

On Wednesday this week, the British destroyer HMD Defender went 3 kilometers into Russian territorial waters near Crimea, which it abandoned after the Russian Navy carried out a warning shot, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Moscow regarded the ship’s maneuvering as a flagrant violation of the UN convention and urged London to thoroughly investigate the actions of his ship.

The destroyer was initially warned that weapons would be used in the event of a violation of the Russian border, but “did not react to that warning,” the Russian ministry said on Wednesday.

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However, a BBC journalist made a call aboard the British ship and confirmed that, despite Russian warnings, HMS Defender continued to navigate the same route, which crossed the territorial waters of Crimea – “we were within 12 miles and we even saw the coast “- before returning to international waters bound for Georgia.

One day after the incident, the Russian Foreign Ministry sent a protest note to the British ambassador in Moscow, Deborah Bronnert.

The Russian Chancellery considers that the actions of the British ship, in addition to “provocative and dangerous”, constituted a “blatant contempt of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea “.

On June 25, The Telegraph newspaper published – citing a source in the British Ministry of Defense – that the final decision on the passage of the British destroyer HMS Defender through Russian territorial waters off the coast of Crimea was taken over by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and it was communicated to the ship’s command two days before the incident,

According to this source, the idea of ​​sending HMS Defender through that route through the Black Sea was the cause of a dispute between the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominic Raab, and the Secretary of Defense, Ben Wallace, who would have proposed the route . The foreign minister expressed concern that Moscow could use the incident to its advantage, the article notes.

Documents relating to Afghanistan

In addition to the documents on the destroyer Defender, the stop in Kent also found official information on the plans for the presence of British military personnel in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the NATO military contingent scheduled for September 11 this year.

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In particular, the materials discuss the question of the desirability of a greater presence of British military personnel in Afghanistan when the withdrawal of NATO troops from the Central Asian country is finalized. In this regard, the documents point out that London can minimize its presence in Afghanistan due to the fact that the situation in the country is becoming more dangerous in light of the observed reduction in the number of troops from the Atlantic Alliance countries. At the same time, the BBC clarified that it will not publish detailed excerpts from this report, as this “could endanger the safety of British military personnel in Afghanistan.”

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