UK warships to sail for Black Sea in May as Ukraine-Russia tensions rise

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British warships will sail for the Black Sea in May amid rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the Sunday Times newspaper has reported.

The deployment is aimed at showing solidarity with Ukraine and Britain’s NATO allies, the newspaper reported.

One Type 45 destroyer armed with anti-aircraft missiles and an anti-submarine Type 23 frigate will leave the Royal Navy’s carrier task group in the Mediterranean and head through the Istanbul Strait into the Black Sea, according to the report.

RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jets and Merlin submarine-hunting helicopters will stand ready on the task group’s flagship, the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, to support the warships in the Black Sea, the report added.

Meanwhile, two Russian Ropucha-class landing ships from Russia’s Northern Fleet, capable of carrying tanks and delivering armor and troops during coastal assaults, transited the Istanbul Strait on April 17, a Reuters reporter in Istanbul saw.

More Russian naval reinforcements in the form of two more landing ships, this time from Russia’s Baltic Fleet, are expected to transit the Istanbul Strait imminently.

The RIA news agency on April 17 also reported that 15 smaller vessels from Russia’s Caspian Flotilla completed their transfer to the Black Sea as part of an exercise.

In a further sign of heightened tensions in the region, a ship carrying logistics trucks and equipment for NATO forces in Romania transited the Bosphorus on April 16 evening, the same Reuters reporter saw.

Expelled diplomats

Russia has ordered a Ukrainian diplomat to leave the country after allegedly receiving classified information from a database of the country’s main security agency, and Ukraine responded by expelling a Russian diplomat.

Alexander Sosonyuk, the Ukrainian consul in St. Petersburg, was detained on April 16 while meeting with a Russian in which he obtained material from a database of the Federal Security Service, according to the agency.

On April 17, the Russian foreign ministry informed charge d’affaires Vasily Pokotilo that Sosonyuk must leave the country by April 15. No details about the contents of the classified material were made public.

As tension increases in the region, French President Emmanuel Macron said the international community has to “define clear red lines with Russia” in an interview, adding that countries must be ready to impose sanctions in case of “unacceptable behavior.”

Macron said the world needed to make it clear to Moscow that while it preferred “open and frank dialogue,” it will not shy from imposing sanctions after any “unacceptable behavior.”

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