US-led Black Sea drills a ‘provocation’ – Russia’s Embassy in Washington

Crimeans fly the Russian flag during the 2014 referendum which saw 97 per cent support for reintegration into the Russian Federation

RUSSIA is warning Western allies that nothing good will come out of provocations in the Black Sea as any attempts to test Moscow’s willingness to defend its own borders are ‘doomed to failure’, Russia’s Embassy in Washington told the American press last week.

‘Manoeuvres performed in the immediate proximity to Russian shores by US and its allies’ destroyers, as well as transport and landing ships – are a provocation,’ the embassy said in a statement commenting on the NATO and US-led Exercise Sea Breeze manoeuvres that ran from 28 June to July 10.
‘Such exercises imitating landing operations and Special Forces training activities, undermine security in the Black Sea region,’ the statement added.
This year’s drills were co-hosted by Ukraine and the United States and comprised 32 ships from 32 nations, including Britain’s HMS Defender that was bombarded by a Russian patrol ship on June 23 after ignoring calls to leave the country’s territorial waters.
The UK Ministry of Defence denied that any warning shots were fired near its ship, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson said its passage was ‘wholly appropriate’ as it was using international waters.
A trove of discovered documents allegedly from the UK Ministry of Defence later suggested that the ship’s intrusion was not accidental but rather a planned provocation to affirm that London doesn’t recognise Crimea as an integral part of Russia.
The UK government doesn’t recognise the results of the 2014 Crimean referendum that saw 97 per cent of the peninsula’s residents vote to re-integrate it into the Russian Federation.
However, it’s time for Western partners to accept the reality, says the Russian Embassy.
‘We call on our partners to comprehend one simple thing – the population of Crimea in 2014 already made its choice. It must be respected. The attempts of the West to test Russia’s determination to defend its territorial integrity with such provocative exercises are doomed to failure,’ it said.
But the US believes that the annual drills that have been running since 1997 should not be treated as a ‘provocation’ by Russia, as they are not conducted in ‘response to any country or event’, according to US Navy Lieutenant Bobby Dixon, who is a public affairs officer for Exercise Sea Breeze.
‘To call this exercise a provocation is to ignore the history of the exercise and the main consistent message,’ Dixon claimed in an interview with the media last week.
He added: ‘The exercise is a multinational coalition of nations dedicated to partnership and stability in the Black Sea region.’
Russia disagrees with this stance, pointing out that if similar exercises were to take place close to US borders, Washington would definitely not be happy.
‘Imagine a situation where Russia conducts drills in the Gulf of Mexico,’ the embassy said, adding, ‘This would have sparked a storm of indignation in the US.’

  • Iranian Police spokesman Brigadier General Mehdi Hajian has announced that the Islamic Republic has ‘returned to their country’ several Afghan border guards, who took refuge in Iran after the Taliban forces attacked the Qala border crossing last Thursday.

‘Following the unrest in Afghanistan, a number of Afghan armed border guards and a number of Afghan customs officials asked the border police of the Islamic Republic of Iran to let them enter our country,’ General Hajian said.
They were accommodated by Iran for a few days he said but, according to an official Afghan government request and based on a decision by Iranian officials, they were flown back to Afghanistan.
On Thursday, the Islam Qala border crossing at the zero point between Afghanistan’s Herat province and Dogharoun in Iran fell to the Taliban forces, after which the Afghan border guards took refuge inside Iran.
Iran, meanwhile, hosted a meeting of delegations from the parties involved in Afghanistan last Wednesday and Thursday to discuss issues between them, which ended with a joint statement.
‘With the support of the legitimate government of Afghanistan, Iran has always called for the parties involved to avoid unrest and war and has done its utmost to resolve the country’s problems through political dialogue between Afghan groups,’ a statement said.

  • A criminal court in Yemen has put six people trial on charges of spying for the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) as well as perpetrating various acts of sabotage in the war-torn Arab country, sentencing five of them to death.

The Criminal Court held in the capital Sana’a, and presided over by Judge Mohammad Mofleh, found the suspects guilty of acts of espionage on behalf of the British intelligence service, including recruiting and training people in a number of Yemeni provinces, the official Saba news agency reported.
The court added that the suspects, identified as Arafat Qassim Abdullah al-Hashedi, Ali Muhammad Abdullah al-Ja’mani, Bassem Ali Ali al-Kharouja, Salim Abdullah Yahya Hobeish and Ayman Mujahid Qaed Harish, were using advanced communications equipment as well as sophisticated monitoring and tracking programmes and applications in order to spy on the Yemeni territory and commit acts of sabotage and were sentenced to death.
Also, Muhammad Sharaf Qaed Harish, another suspect, was sentenced to five years in prison.
Saba highlighted that the six worked in Sana’a Municipality as well as the Northern Yemeni provinces of Amran, Sa’ada and al-Jawf, Central province of Ma’rib as well as the Southern provinces of al-Mahra and Hadramaut.
The UK has long been supplying Saudi Arabia with sophisticated arms systems for war on Yemen, while it stands alongside the US to help the Saudi-led coalition in the war and siege of the impoverished Arab country.
Moreover, Yemeni officials have been slamming London for interfering in their country’s domestic affairs.
Back in September 2020, the spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement censured Britain’s blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Arab country, after then British Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron accused Yemeni armed forces of fomenting clashes in the strategic central province of Ma’rib.
‘As usual, the British ambassador tends to utter remarks and put out statements about the independent Republic of Yemen, ignoring the fact that the mercenaries and traitors whom he meets do not represent the nation.
‘They solely think of money and are ready to sell the country and compromise its interests,’ Mohammad Abdul-Salam said in a statement at the time.
He added that the Yemeni nation refuses to be controlled by any party and firmly rejects interference in Yemen’s internal affairs, stressing that Aron’s remarks clearly indicate the failure of the Saudi-led aggression and the siege against Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, back to power and crushing the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.
According to the United Nations, 80 per cent of Yemen’s 30 million people need some form of aid or protection. About 13.5 million Yemenis currently face acute food insecurity, UN data shows.
The popular Ansarullah movement, backed by the Yemeni armed forces and allied popular groups, has gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and has successfully defended Yemen against the Saudi aggression, leaving Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.