Since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, defence cooperation with Ukraine has been the cornerstone of the UK’s strategic approach to the Black Sea area.

Britain has provided training and equipment to Ukrainian troops while supporting Ukraine within the UN and NATO. The 2021 Russian military build-up near the Ukrainian border shows the lingering uncertainty about the future of Ukraine and its Eastern regions.


This article was submitted to the UK Defence Journal by J. Vitor TossiniVitor is a student of International Relations at the Sao Paulo State University. He also explores British imperial and military history and its legacies to the modern world.

This article is the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the UK Defence Journal. If you would like to submit your own article on this topic or any other, please see our submission guidelines


Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new nation-states in Eastern Europe, British diplomacy quickly engaged with most of these new nations, including the three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) and Ukraine. In December 1991, the UK was the first member of the then European Economic Community to recognise Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union. Diplomatic relations were established in early January 1992. During the next two years, the British Government would work closely with Ukraine, the United States, and Russia on the future of the Ukrainian nuclear arsenal inherited from the Soviet Union. Additionally, Belarus and Kazakhstan also inherited nuclear facilities and weapons from the former Union, meaning that the international system had suddenly three new nuclear powers alongside Russia.

Although the issue of the future of the Soviet arsenal concerned not only the UK, it was sensitive to the British Government due to the numbers involved that surpassed more than four times the size of the British nuclear arsenal. In 1992, the Ukrainian authorities had the third-largest nuclear weapons stockpile, roughly 1,700 warheads or one-third of the former Soviet arsenal. Moreover, the end of the Soviet Union meant that Britain – and other Western countries – could adopt a “peace dividend” policy, which would lead to several cuts in the defence budget, including the axing of a part of its nuclear stockpile. However, for a “peace dividend” to prevail in Britain, the nuclear weapons of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan would need to be eliminated, having in Russia the only “nuclear successor” of the Soviet Union. Thus, nuclear proliferation could be contained mainly to a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) member.

In short, the following negotiations involving Britain, the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine aimed at countering “nuclear proliferation” while ending the growing concerns of other nuclear powers about the future of the relatively enormous nuclear arsenal outside Russia. In exchange, the three nuclear powers – Britain, the United States and Russia – would be the security guarantors of the countries that agreed to get rid of the Soviet nuclear arsenal.

In December 1994, the three powers agreed to provide security assurances against the use of force or threats against the territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan in exchange for their adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (TNP). Signed on 5 December, the “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” key statements indicated that the UK, the United States and Russia would respect the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The Budapest Memorandum also individually assured the newly independent nations that the three nuclear powers would refrain from using economic coercion to influence their politics. The other members of the UN Security Council, France and China, issued individual security assurances. Thus, between 1994 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Britain would establish itself as an important partner of Ukraine in the economic sphere, particularly in investment cooperation, banking and finance sectors. In 2008-2009, Ukraine’s attempts to achieve closer cooperation ties with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) led to intensifying defence collaboration with Britain, which the Ukrainian Government saw as a possible supporter of Ukraine’s ambition to initiate a NATO Membership Action Plan. It is worth noting that in the last years of the Tony Blair Government (1997-2007), the British foreign policy supported the idea of incorporating Ukraine into NATO as a “full-fledged member”. Within this context, Britain and Ukraine signed a Joint Statement in 2008 declaring for the first time the “strategic” character of their bilateral relations.

Nevertheless, between 2009 and 2013, the British position changed after Ukraine opted for “non-alignment” in 2009. Following this Ukrainian foreign policy shift, Britain would focus on supporting the advancement of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union (EU). The British Government saw the Association Agreement as the first step and basis for future Ukrainian membership of the EU.

However, in November 2013, large-scale protests (“Euromaidan movement”) erupted in Ukraine, especially in the Western part of the country, in response to the Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement. The refusal came after previous postponements and was seen as an attempt to appease and maintain close ties with Russia, the largest trading partner of Ukraine. The protests continued into 2014, and in February, violent confrontations between protesters and the riot police resulted in 130 deaths. Viktor Yanukovych’s political position quickly deteriorated, and on 22 February, he fled the capital ahead of an incoming impeachment vote. On that same day, the parliament voted to relieve Yanukovych from his duties.

The “Ukrainian Revolution” or “2014 Maidan revolution” highlighted divisions within Ukraine’s society and quickly involved Russia. The ethnic Russian minority in Ukraine supported the continuity of Russia as a preferential partner of the country. At the same time, Russia would justify its intervention as a safeguard for the Russian minority in Ukraine. So, after fleeing, Yanukovych declared that the vote that removed him from office was illegal and requested Russian assistance. In response, Moscow stated that it did not recognise the new government in Kyiv and considered the episode a coup. Meanwhile, protests in favour and against the revolution became widespread in Southern and Eastern Ukraine.

While instigating protests against the new Ukrainian Government, Russia initiated a military intervention in Ukraine. Initially, the intervention comprised the deployment of Russian soldiers in unmarked green army uniforms (known as the “little green men”) that took control of several strategic positions and infrastructure within Crimea. On 27 February, the Russian “little green men” took control of the Crimean local government, forcing the regional parliament to replace its Prime Minister for the pro-Russian politician Sergey Aksyonov. Within hours, the Russian forces had cut off all communications between Crimea and Ukraine. Officially, the Federation Council of Russia only approved the use of military force on Ukrainian territory on 1 March, after Aksyonov requested assistance. The Crimean Peninsula, including the strategic naval base at Sevastopol, leased to Russia since 1991, was formally annexed by the Russian Federation on 21 March after ratifying the “Treaty on Accession of the Republic of Crimea to Russia”. Other conflicts in Eastern Ukraine involving Russian-backed separatists would remain a lingering issue in Ukraine.

As one of the three “guarantors” of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, through the Budapest Memorandum (1994), the UK had a particular responsibility when the Russian intervention occurred. The UK supported the change of government in Kyiv and opposed the Russian intervention in Ukrainian affairs. Despite that, witnesses contributing to a Houses of Parliament report in 2015 considered the initial British response “hesitant”. Additionally, the unfolding events in Ukraine raised concerns and negative criticism concerning the British Government’s Defence Policy laid out by the 2010 Defence Review, which was seen as one of the causes of this hesitant approach. It is worth noting that the weight of American diplomacy played a part in this initial hesitant British approach, for Moscow saw Britain’s instance on Ukraine as aligned with Washington.

As the crisis unfolded, the British Government adopted an active role. Firstly, Britain presented itself as a supporter of collective sanctions against Russia through the European Union (EU) and the Group of Seven. The British Government also performed a crucial role in the approval of the General Assembly resolution on Crimea. Britain declared that it regarded the “annexation of Crimea as illegal” and would maintain “a position of principled support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. This statement would remain the cornerstone of the British bilateral relationship with Ukraine.

During the last years as a member of the EU, an image began to form of Britain as the leading country of a minority group of members that advocated the most rigid position on Russia. Thus, after the British exit from the European Union, London continued to support the Ukrainian position and defended the implementation of the Minsk Protocols, which envisaged the cease-fire in Eastern Ukraine (in the Donbas region). Even though the Protocols failed to end the fighting in Ukraine, they remained the basis for future agreements.

Since 2014, the UK has sought to enhance its economic and defence cooperation with Ukraine while improving the Ukrainian position as a nation capable of containing the conflict with the Russian-backed insurgents in the far Eastern part of the country. Following Brexit, this trend gained pace. The British Government recognised that Ukraine could become a crucial partner within the scope of its “Global Britain” policy, acting as a European partner outside the EU. At the NATO 2014 Summit in Wales, the UK aimed to improve the Alliance’s initiatives concerning joint expeditionary forces for “in-area” deployments, in particular to the Eastern flank of NATO, supporting the American proposition for a “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force” (VJTF). During the Wales Summit, Britain also acted to alleviate fears in southern members of NATO that the Baltic States were exacerbating the Russian threat, opening the path for a final collective statement favourable to Ukraine.

Since the Russian aggression, London dedicated more efforts to improving its diplomatic links with Kyiv. After Brexit, the British Government had an additional reason to strengthen British-Ukrainian relations. Beyond the support within NATO, Britain initiated “Reform Assistance Programmes” in Ukraine to improve local governability, tackle corruption, and improve governance while supporting economic reforms. Although seen in 2015-2016 as discreet efforts to improve Ukrainian governance and economic outlook, these initiatives would indirectly support enhanced trade arrangements between the two nations. In October 2020, Britain and Ukraine signed a “continuity agreement” adapting the existing Ukraine-EU Trade Agreement that entered into force in September 2017. For Ukraine, the new Agreement guaranteed access to the British market. For Britain, the Agreement kept one of its primary food suppliers open for business; for example, in 2019, almost 15% of British imports of cereals originated from Ukraine. Furthermore, the “Political, Free Trade and Strategic Partnership Agreement” updates and formalises the strategic partnership between the UK and Ukraine.

Concerning the Defence cooperation, since the Russian annexation of Crimea, seeking international assistance to strengthen its defence capabilities has been a priority of the Ukrainian Government. In Ukraine, expectations of British military assistance have been high as Britain remains one of the two signatory powers that still commit to the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. Supporting these expectations lies the fact that before the 2014 Crisis, Britain had been an active partner of Ukraine, leading programmes between 2009 and 2014 to enhance Ukraine’s military command, control and communication systems while conducting joint training exercises. Therefore, during the 2014 NATO Summit, Britain was chosen as the leading partner in the Alliance’s Trust Fund to improve the Ukrainian forces’ command, control, communications, and computerisation.

Moreover, the UK would support Ukraine through direct bilateral military aid. In late 2014, London supplied the first wave of military equipment and logistical assistance to Kyiv. In March 2015, Britain sent a second package of military equipment followed by a third in November. Concurrently, the British Government approved the deployment of military advisers to train the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The first group of military advisers arrived in Western Ukraine in February 2015. The initiative – called Operation Orbital – was well received by the Ukrainian Government. At the end of the following year, British advisers provided more than 30 courses and training programmes. In 2017, the British training programmes prepared the most significant contingent of troops for the Ukrainian military. The 2016-2017 period witnessed the British shift from military material aid to training local troops. Between 2015 and 2021, Operation Orbital trained more than 21,000 Ukrainian personnel.

Avoiding a direct association with the ongoing military conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the sites used by the British personnel were located far from the areas of armed conflicts. Additionally, in 2016 the two countries agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding about the bilateral defence and security cooperation between the UK and Ukraine. This 2016 Memorandum represented increasing Ukrainian confidence that London would remain an actor in the region despite Russian pressures and lead to the 2020 Free Trade and Strategic Partnership Agreement previously mentioned. It is worth noting that following active British diplomatic efforts, Ukraine achieved NATO’s “Enhanced Opportunity Partner” status in June 2020, which grants “enhanced access to interoperability programmes and exercises, and more sharing of information”.

After the Russian occupation of Crimea, the Black Sea has witnessed an increasing British naval presence. Similarly, Romania and Bulgaria received British personnel through NATO’s Multinational Divisional Headquarters (South-East) and Force Integration Units. Additionally, Britain has regularly based Typhoon jets from the Royal Air Force as part of NATO Air Policing missions at the Romanian airbase “Mihail Kogalniceanu” on the Black Sea coast. Between January 2018 and October 2021, the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels spent roughly 50 days every year on a rotational basis on the Black Sea. These deployments are symbols of the British strategy to reinforce NATO’s Eastern flank while displaying its unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In September 2020, the British Government announced that its training contribution through Operation Orbital would expand to include maritime capacity-building. Thus, the UK would lead a multinational Maritime Training Initiative (MTI) for the Ukrainian Navy. In the same month, British paratroopers and their Ukrainian counterparts participated in joint exercises (Exercise Joint Endeavour). Flying direct from Britain and parachuting into the south of Ukraine, more than 200 British paratroopers participated in the drill, considered the largest of its kind within a decade. The exercises of 2020 highlighted Britain’s ability to project military power throughout the region while displaying the high level of British commitment to Ukraine.

Since the establishment of the MTI, the British-led naval training initiative resulted in a similar British-led effort to enhance Ukraine’s naval capabilities. This new phase of defence cooperation was initiated by the Memorandum of Intent of October 2020 signed by the British Defence Secretary and his Ukrainian counterpart on board HMS Prince of Wales. According to the British Government, one of the main points of the Memorandum concerns the GBP 1.25 billion on favourable terms from UK Export Finance – the UK’s export credit agency – for Ukrainian naval projects. Britain would build “missile cruisers” and other ships in line with NATO standards to aid the naval forces of Kyiv. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that Memorandum presented a “new page for Ukrainian-British cooperation and an unprecedented event for Ukraine”.

On 21 June 2021, during HMS Defender’s visit to the Black Sea as part of the British Carrier Strike Group Deployment, Britain and Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Implementation. The two nations have agreed to advance with the Ukrainian Naval Capabilities Enhancement Programme. According to the British Government, this second Memorandum includes “the training of Ukrainian Navy personnel, the creation of new naval bases, and the purchase of two Sandown class mine countermeasure vessels”.

In short, Britain secured the following projects:

  1. “Missile sale and integration on new and in-service Ukrainian Navy patrol and airborne platforms”;
  2. “The development and joint production of eight fast missile warships”;
  3. “The creation of a new naval base on the Black Sea as the primary fleet base for Ukraine and a new base on the Sea of Azov”;
  4. Sale of two refurbished Sandown class mine countermeasure vessels;
  5. Babcock’s participation in the Ukrainian project to deliver a new generation of frigate capability.

Concerning the “fast missile warships”, it has been disclosed that London and Kyiv agreed that the first two vessels would be built in the UK (one of them confirmed for the Babcock Rosyth facility in the Syncrolift Hall, Scotland). Lastly, the projects also include a Shipyard Regeneration Plan aimed at the regeneration of Ukrainian shipyards.

Two days after the signing of the Memorandum of Implementation on board HMS Defender, this Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer would perform freedom of navigation patrol through the disputed waters of Crimea. The “diplomatic incident” between the British vessel and Russian patrol boats and aircrafts resulted in significant media attention worldwide. The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation alleged that its patrol boats fired warning shots and Sukhoi Su-24 “dropped bombs” in the path of HMS Defender after the ship entered Crimea’s territorial waters. The British Ministry of Defence denied these claims and stated that the shots were fired three miles astern and could not be considered warning shots. One BBC defence correspondent on board Defender confirmed that firing could be heard in the distance. HMS Defender kept its planned course arriving in Batumi, Georgia, on 26 June.

The HMS Defender’s freedom of navigation operation signalled Britain’s support for Ukraine territorial integrity. As the British Government recognises only the Ukrainian authority over Crimea and the customary route between the Ukrainian port of Odesa and Batumi includes passing near Crimea, the decision also involved not displaying weakness or some degree of recognition to the Russian occupation. The “incident” also highlights that Russia avoided the risk of direct military confrontation in the Black Sea with the UK and other NATO members beyond the assertive rhetoric and behaviour. Days later, HMS Defender reached its destination in Georgia, and the British-Ukrainian relations were reinforced by the British demonstration of solidarity with Ukraine. In comparison, the Kerch Strait incident of 2018 resulted in the Russian capture of three Ukrainian military vessels.

Britain’s planned military deployments to the Black Sea and Ukraine suffered no changes after HMS Defender’s incident. While the Royal Navy reinforced the British support for Ukrainian territorial integrity near Crimea, British and Ukrainian forces led the multinational “Cossack Mace” land exercises in that same month. During two weeks in June 2021, these exercises rehearsed a joint response to a potential aggressor state seizing and controlling Ukrainian territory. Shortly after, HMS Defender took part in the annual Sea Breeze naval drills in the Black Sea.

Therefore, since 2014 the British-Ukrainian bilateral relations have entered an ascending path. The UK has achieved a unique position within Ukraine’s foreign policy as one of the country’s closest and most committed partners, perhaps only surpassed by the United States. London has been an active supporter of increasing Kyiv’s integration with NATO while seeking to improve its military presence in the eastern flank of the Alliance, particularly in the Baltic nations and the Black Sea. Since 2015, British forces have trained thousands of Ukrainian personnel every year and performed regular joint land and naval exercises. Lastly, the UK commitment can be noticed in the favourable terms of agreements concerning the future of the Ukrainian Navy and the sale of British vessels to Kyiv. Lastly, Britain continues to recognise Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea, considering that the Russian occupation is illegal and violates the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.

In conclusion, looking for new solid international partnerships since 2014, Ukraine has found one of its prominent supporters in the UK. Despite the recurrent rhetoric from Russia against the British standing in the world, the UK remains seen by Russian defence specialists as a major actor “willing to go to the edge” for Ukraine and the international rules-based system while having “fewer reservations about confronting Russia than some other European NATO member states”. Concerning Britain’s point of view, the British Government has in Ukraine one of its strategic partners for a foreign policy that searches for new allies and partners beyond the EU. Enhancing ties with Ukraine is a way for the British Government to display how the UK can reaffirm its position as the leading European contributor to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area and major supporter of the international rules-based system.

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Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago

Very detailed and interesting, containing a lot of info, certainly from the 90s I was not aware of. Thank you.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Excellent informative article. Really underlines how important our small forces and influence can have in a region. I’m pretty sure that with out our support Russia would have certainly made a run for total control of Ukraine.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

With perhaps 80-150,000 troops ready to roll within about 100 miles of the border I’d say that any UK support was a complete irrelevance to the Russians. The Donbas militias, with it is assumed some Russian support, crushed the Ukrainian army 2-3 times. Had Russia had any intention to do more, much more, than it did there was nothing militarily stopping them. Same now.

Graham
Graham
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

The UK would not take Russia on alone.

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

I think you are forgetting the political aspect. Killing NATO troops could lead to Russia getting a very nasty surprise.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Were Russia to become involved militarily in Ukraine I fail to see how the UK or any other NATO country would be dragged into the literal morass. For a start there are no legal obligations to force them to whilst there is no safe way, unless prewarned, to get any significant forces in place. The death or capture of a few dozens say of NATO troops is, apart from a lot of possible howls, going to be regarded as collateral damage. Any reaction is likely to be economic but what can be done that would make a difference? Cut of… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

There won’t be any NATO troops there! Just some SF of countries that are members of NATO, and they are quite capable of looking after themselves.The Ukraine’s forces will be well armed by Western countries to enable them to defend themselves and repel the invaders.
A similar example would be of US support and arms supplies to Israel in the Arab Israeli wars of the 1960/70s which tilted the balance as Israel was out numbered to begin with, and decisively in favour of Israel.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Russia will do what it wants, how it wants, and when it wants! Why? … because the rest of the world either doesn’t give a toss, or is shit scared of Russia and it’s 1 million+ army, not to mention it’s 2 million reserves. Russia invaded the Crimea, the west did nothing. Russia poisoned people in the UK ,,, the west did nothing. Russia told Belarus to hijack a plane … the west did nothing. The west is weak, tired or winless wars, and feeble. The west also does not wish to see arms sales to former soviet bloc countries… Read more »

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

You mean similar to how the world saw Iraq in 1990? And look what happened in 91! It also had a million strong army at the time.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Russian soldiers, conscripts or whatever dont run away … they are not allowed to!

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Neither were the Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait, not supposed to run away, but they did in 91!
The Ukrainian’s will be delivered a lot more firepower soon, from the US.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

More firepower … and that means what?? Dude this is a country that sanctioned the use of nuclear isotopes on foreign soil to kill. someone they didn’t like anymore! The Uk, US, … no one did anything!

And you compare an Iraqi mindset to that of a Russian, or Chinese??

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

You Wrong again! The UK, US, EU have woken up to the Russian threat, and have applied sanctions and given support to those under threat like Ukraine.

It doesn matter if Russian, or Chinese faced the same circumstances as a Iraqi in Kuwait in 1991! Are you a Supremacist of a sort??

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago

Brilliant article, full of detail, thanks Vitor!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago

NATO needs to forward deploy a lot more air assets in countries neighbouring the Black Sea.

John Hirst
John Hirst
1 month ago

The Ukrainians are placing a great deal of faith in the UK. I hope our government continues to be worthy of it…right to the edge.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago

A good in-depth article, I just hope we can hold our nerve and keep supporting the Ukrainians and help them recover the Crimea in the not to distant future.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago

Whatever the UK, or indeed anyone else, does there is zero chance of Crimea ever leaving the Russian Federation. It has been pretty much fully integrated now with only the water supply to be sorted.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Yeh you are right, we have neither the will or the capability to do any thing

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Very interesting, I read every word.

While I support the assistance to Ukraine, I personally believe it should only go so far. No way would I want Ukraine in NATO. That would be a red line for Russia and we would be on the verge of WW3.

We should tread carefully.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago

Agree with you Daniele ,hate to say it but got some friends from Ukraine who made there way to UK ,told me it’s a very corrupt .IS it really worth fighting for.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer is the saying.

It’s like Putin basing forces in Ireland if they by some miracle allied to Russia.

How would we the UK view that? How did Kennedy view missiles in Cuba on the US doorstep.

Tread carefully. Support Ukraine by all means but do not poke the sleeping bear to the point it ruins us all.

And no….I’m not a Russian Troll! It’s been said before.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago

The Baltic States are neighbours of Russia, Daniele. A NATO country being a neighbor of Russia should Not be a problem! Russia will deploy sufficient forces on it borders to defend itself. NATO would need to agree with Russia to deploy a limited forces for self defense, if Ukraine joined NATO.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
eclipse
eclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

I disagree. A country that neighbours Russia being allies with its enemy is already dangerous, from Russia’s perspective. But really the problems start to appear when more powerful countries like the U.K. / US (in this situation) start sending their own troops to that country. That’s no longer just alliance, that’s a threat, at least from Russia’s viewpoint.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  eclipse

No it’s Not, there are already small numbers of British troops in Estonia, they are Not a threat to Russia. The Russian insecurity is based on their autocratic leadership’s paranoids.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Spot on. Would we say the same about Russian troops in Belarus ? No. Just because Putin is a sensitive little girl doesn’t give him any right to decide what happens outside Russia.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

You mean just like our Boris and the US’s Biden don’t have any right to decide what happens outside the UK and US? All countries have strategic interests that they strive to keep.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Yes they do! Because they are leaders of a club called NATO, Ivan! Russia has lost it’s club, they changed sides just got untrustworthy Luka left, it’s loveless Ivan!

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Not sure where Russia changed sides. Interestingly we and the US in particular seem to be doing our best to get Russia into bed with China. This is not strategically a very good idea given their interlocking strengths.

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

I am surprise you didn’t understand what I said?
So English is Not you first language then?
I mean the rest of the Warsaw Pact countries changed sides like Poland and Romania.Russia has just got untrustworthy Luka left.
The honey moon with China will Not last!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

“…to get Russia into bed with China.”

The main thing Russia would Not want, is China eventually owning assets like gas pipelines and ports etc! It will be the price that China will demand!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Indeed. If Russia is so great, why do most of the countries once part of the Warsaw pact want so passionately to be free & apart from her?

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

👍

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

There needs to be a unanimoius NATO country vote for Ukraine to join and the rules don’t allow any country with a dispute like that in the civil war in eastern Ukraine to join.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Its not a civil war JohnMK sorry Ivan lol.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

To my mind when one section of society in a country is fighting another section in the same country that is a civil war. The fighting in 2014 in eastern Ukraine started well before the Russians got involved in that part of the country with the Ukrainian Army and Right Sector units fighting their way south against local militias/deserters/old soldiers. That was a black and white civil war and it continues to this day.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Wrong again Ivan.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Black is white again!

chris stocken
chris stocken
1 month ago

The bear is not asleep! It has been awake for some time. It is hoping that the west will do nothing! so he can shit in the woods of it’s neighbours.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  chris stocken

Lol, nice description.

It is indeed not asleep so my wording could have been better.
It IS asleep compared to how awake it could be if NATO decides it’s a good idea for world peace to allow Ukraine to join, leaving NATO within 400 miles of Moscow and a serious chip on Putin’s shoulder as NATO creeps ever eastwards.

How close was Cuba to Florida in 62 with missiles within a few minutes flying time, and why was Kennedy rightly not happy?

Why do we think our enemies might think any differently.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago

It is NATO in Ukraine is what matters, e.g. what a future Ukrainian membership will be like, what equipment NATO will have deployed there. Ukraine has been given a joining action plan, so it is only a matter of time.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The UK is gaving a helping head to the Ukrainians to reduce the corruption there, it will take time.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago

I agree with that DM but also Russia needs to understand they are not entitled to the Ukraine give them assistance but only go in if Russia starts a large invasion.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

I agree totally with DM. As I have already posted, if Russia goes in, which it will only do if provoked, it is likely to be over in hours with no invasion. The militia in the Donbas, fully trained and equipped, will be capable of sorting out the UA after that rain of death. Our QR forces wont have even got to Brize.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Na I dont agree with you buddy , the Ukraine forces have done well , the airborne done piratically well ,,,, In August 2014 the brigade conducted a raid behind the separatist lines. The 95th Airmobile Brigade, which had been reinforced with armor assets and attachments, launched a surprise attack on separatist lines, broke through into their rear areas, fought for 450 kilometers, and destroyed or captured numerous Russian tanks and artillery pieces before returning to Ukrainian lines. They operated not as a concentrated brigade but rather split into three company-sized elements on different axes of advance. According to Phillip Karber,… Read more »

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

We can all pick outliers but sadly for the Ukrainian Army that episode was not typical of their overall performance. From a position of apparent strength in terms of numbers and assets, they proved to be a huge disappointment. From memory they ended up cut off in 2 or 3 caldrons, as they called them, with thousand of troops isolated. Then finally in early 2015 came the worst, that of Debaltseve where the separatists well and truly beat the UA leading to the rapid Agreement of Minsk 11 and the ‘ceasefire’ that still exists today.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

I totally disagree with you johnMK buddy,the Ukraine forces have done well, the longest raid in history for one example which I put in detail but UKDJ is waiting to approve it for some reason, in fact your ill informed comment gives me suspicion you are Russian troll, prove me wrong, I can say for sure if Russia invaded it well be no easy task let alone holding ground when for sure most of the population F-ing hates them.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  dave12

Hi Dave. I’d not commit western forces much like the US doesn’t park forces in Taiwan. I’d arm to the teeth, give intelligence, money, training, more sanctions on Russia. NATO should respond to attacks on its members, Ukraine is not.

Now if Putin attacked the Baltic states that is different, they are NATO.

dave12
dave12
1 month ago

Yeah true to be honest it would be a bad move If Putin decided to invade unless he just wants to secure the water supply to the Crimea.

Graham
Graham
1 month ago

I totally agree. It was not without risk that most of the USSRs Warsaw Pact allies joined NATO as well as all 3 Baltic states – all countries touching Russia or nearly so. Ukraine joining NATO would be the last straw for Putin.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago

The Russians, the USA and the UK were the co-signatory’s that promised to defend the Ukraine so it would give up its Nuclear arsenal after the Soviet Union split up. The UK and to a lesser extent the USA have/are trying to defend the country but under Mr Putin the Russians have been looking for ways of taking back the country. While the rest of the world looks on to see if we have the minerals to stand up to Mr Putin to see if signing a treaty with the West is actually worth the paper it is written on,… Read more »

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago

The wording of the Budapest Memorandum is a bit vague but there is no firm commitment or promise to come to any Military Assistance to the Ukraine in the event of any attempt to violate it’s Borders,as signed by the signatories.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

It is a bit vague I would agree but the fact of the matter is out of the 3 countries that said that they would help if needed 1 has invaded while the other 2 look on and do nothing. Mr Putin is playing his hand extremely well as he knows we (UK) have neither the will or the capacity to do any thing. He has sowed the seeds of doubt through-out Europe so that it is extremely doubtful that Nato will ever mobilise to do what it was set up to do. He is calling our bluff and he… Read more »

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago

NATO was set up to protect its members, which it has done, whilst Ukraine is outside the club so NATO would never mobilise to protect Ukraine. Not that Article 5 mandates mobilisation.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

It has done yes, with the threat of mobilisation, even if the massed hordes of Cossack’s came rolling through Germany by the time the various Nato members agreed to mobilise it would be too late, The Americans undestand this and tried to pressure the European contingent of Nato the put together a Very Quick Reaction Force (VQRF) so that it could help plug any gapes while the US/Canadian forces could then get their s–t together. There is no political will to create such a force, as I said Mr Putin has sown his seeds through-out Europe

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago

Perhaps the European’s risk analysis, on the liklehood of a Soviet/Russian strike west, was better than ours or the US’s. They were certainly able to spend a greater proportion of their income on say health and education than we were due to the reduced defence bills. Looking back on the past 30 years what did we get out of all that money?

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

We got nothing out of all that money as we have cut our armed forces to a shadow of its former self but our assessment was right. It takes an idiot like Trump to point out to the Europeans (and the UK) that the US tax payer is getting fed up with bailing out the European free loaders but the wake up call may be too late.

simon alexander
simon alexander
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

This article is so interesting. a 3 way memo of which the UK was a signatory. the geography is that the russian bear is nextdoor.
Did not the West over encourage a newly independent Ukraine at the time.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago

I seem to remember some statements at that time agreeing that NATO wouldn’t spread east. Keeping promises is a two way trade. By the way your UK/US support comment is the wrong way round as the US has put a far larger military investment into Ukraine than we have.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Why should we keep to a Promise when Mr Putin clearly dose not think any of them are worth the paper they are written on, also did we not agree to help defend the Ukraine if it was attacked so that it would give up its Nuclear arsenal. Your last statement is technically right but the UK is more vocal in it aide programme with the Ukraine as the USA do not what to be seen as the lead in this particular conflict.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago

Look at the dates, NATO expanded east well before Russia started twitching about Ukraine. So far Ukraine has not been attacked. If Russia strikes first we will be in a different place compared to if they respond to an attack by the UA on Donbas, in effect defending well over 500,000 of their citizens.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

I do believe it was Mr Putin who ordered the Chemical attack in the UK that killed UK citizens, I do believe that it was Mr Putin who ordered his spy’s to blow up several ammunition storage facilities across Europe and it was Mr Putin who ordered the attack on the Crimea which he is currently occupying against the UN and world opinion. So are we not already in a de-facto war with Russia. As far as the 500,000 citizens the number is debatable but he is moving people to the region daily most are fighting aged men!!

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

“…in effect defending well over 500,000 of their citizens.”

Not Russian citizens, but Russian speaking Ukraine citizens! Only preceived as Russian by Russia,
Russia could end up killing those citizens!

dave12
dave12
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Ivan . its not NATO fault that former USSR nations saw a future west and become sick of kremlin rule, you only got yourselves to blame.

Alan Abdo
Alan Abdo
1 month ago

Fundamental principles envisaged in the Budapest Memorandum and their flagrant violations The Budapest Memorandum constitutes a significant building block for global security arrangements, the European security architecture and a cornerstone of stability in a volatile post-Soviet region. Its de-facto deactivation as a result of the brutal military aggression by the guarantor-state has undermined all layers of global security. Russia’s ongoing aggression has undercut every pillar of the international rule-based order: the UN Charter, the Paris Charter for New Europe, Final Act of the Helsinki Conference, the European convention on human rights, other OSCE basic principles and commitments, multiple bilateral treaties… Read more »

Ewiak Ryszard
Ewiak Ryszard
1 month ago

Since 1945 (Operation Unthinkable) Heaven is holding back the wind of the WW3. And so it will be until the appointed time. In the Book of Daniel, we read, “And both these kings [Great Britain and Russia], their hearts (will be) to do mischief, and at one table (they) will speak a lie; but it will not succeed. Indeed yet (the) completion to (the) appointed time. And [the king of the north] will go back (to) his land with great wealth [1945]; and his heart (will be) against the holy covenant [Soviet Union introduced state atheism and believers were repressed];… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Ewiak Ryszard

Thanks for that! It’s identical to what you posted before I recall?

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  Ewiak Ryszard

You need to cut down on your medication, The Islamic fundamentalists re-write the Koran to suit them selves and to justify the acts of barbarism you seem to what to do the same with the Bible.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  Ewiak Ryszard

To much cheese at bedtime pal.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Ewiak Ryszard

But will Ralf Rangnick turn Man Utd around?

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago

This is the best overview of the Ukraine–U.K. relationship I have read and the references are precise and detailed. A complex series of events has been brilliantly summarised.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago

As I have said here before, I cannot understand why many posters here seem to think that Russia wants to take over Ukraine. The country is heavily in debt, its industry has collapsed since 2014, it is easily the most corrupt country in Europe with those tentacles reaching to the Biden family, whilst on top of that a significant proportion of the population hates Russia. Whilst the population of Crimea voted to join Russia, something they have been trying to achieve since 1999, the Russians took it back (it was given apparently illegally to Ukraine in 1954 by Khrushchev who… Read more »

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

“Whilst the population of Crimea voted to join Russia…”

Certainly by a rigged election to join Russia, same as usual now there!

You are certainly showing your true colours this time Ivan!

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

“…Russians took it back (it was given apparently illegally to Ukraine in 1954 by Khrushchev…”

Nothing illegal of the GS of the USSR who had the absolute power to give Crimea to any other republic, in the same way Stalin transfered East Prussia to the USSR.
The election was rigged in Crimea, just the same as usual in Russia!
Ukraine is no more corrupt than Russia!
You really do need to learn the art of consistency Ivan, a very big fail of you!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
DFJ123
DFJ123
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Because Russia already has literally invaded and is occupying Ukrainian territory as we speak. Christ some of the comments on here are deeply disturbing.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  JohninMK

That’s a generous view. I believe the Head of MI6 is closer to the mark; Putin does not accept that the Ukraine should exist as an independent sovereign state able to choose its own trading partners and build its own alliances.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

The Russian view of Crimea is the same as NATOs view on Kosovo. If one is allowed under international law then so should the other. Russia fully accepts that Ukraine is an independent country. There was even a referendum, similar to that in Crimea, where the locals in Donbas voted to stay in Ukraine. They want the Minsk agreements implemented. At that point the Russians backed off.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago

Interesting obtaining a concisely written, international viewpoint of the UK unencumbered by our own tendency to navel gaze below the parapet rather than scan above it.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Granted, the article primarily focuses UK’s softer power attributes, proving we can still take significant pride in this aspect. Did make me look more specifically at some western allies defence expenditure commitments (GDP %) over the past decade 2010 / 2020, compared with end of Cold War (1990):- Australia 1.4 / 2.1 (2.1); France 2.4 / 2.1 (3.4); Germany 1.4 / 1.5 (2.7); Norway 1.5 / 1.9 (2.9); Netherlands 1.4 / 1.4 (2.5); UK 2.5 / 2.2 (3.8); USA 4.7 / 3.7 (5.3). Japan’s a strange one as it still declares the 1% GDP it’s committed for decades – a… Read more »

Phylyp
Phylyp
1 month ago

A fantastically informative article, and one that gave much more context on the post-USSR breakup decisions, and how those factored into the 2014 Crimean annexation, and the latest border worries.

I thought I had a fair idea of the Ukraine crises, this article drove home just how little I know, and it then did a great job of bringing me up to speed.

As always, Mr. Tossini not only knows his stuff, but writes it in a manner easily understandable by the layperson.

JohninMK
JohninMK
1 month ago
Reply to  Phylyp

Agreed, whilst it is possible to disagree with some of it, it is still a very good and rare analysis and summary.

Tomartyr
Tomartyr
1 month ago

Lots of people in these comments (usual suspects though) letting their fear of Russia cloud their judgement. We can’t let fear control our strategy, we must stand with Ukraine now, that is the only way we stop the Russian/Chinese expansion and resulting nightmare.