Putin's threat to UK: 'I could sink your ships without a world war'


Putin's threat to UK: 'I could sink your ships without a world war'

Concerns over the situation in Ukraine are growing as US intelligence claims Russia has asked China for military assistance. US National Security A

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Concerns over the situation in Ukraine are growing as US intelligence claims Russia has asked China for military assistance. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that Washington was watching closely to see to what extent Beijing provided economic or material support to Russia, and would impose consequences if that occurred. He told CNN: “We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to back-fill them. “We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world.”

Putin’s forces continue to bombard major cities in Ukraine as the invasion nears three weeks.

The war has heightened tensions between Russia and the UK, but Moscow and London have been at loggerheads for years.

This was seen in June 2021 when Putin warned the UK that his forces could sink British ships.

Putin said Russia could have sunk a British warship that it accused of illegally entering its territorial waters without starting World War 3 and accused Washington of a role in the “provocation”.

At the time, Moscow had already expressed anger in the direction of the UK after British ships operated near Crimea.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, but Britain and most of the world still recognise the Black Sea peninsula as part of Ukraine, not Russia.

Putin, speaking during his annual question and answer session with voters, signalled his anger over the operations.

When asked if the world had stood on the precipice of World War 3 during the standoff, Putin said: “Of course not.

“Even if we had sunk the ship, it is hard to imagine that the world would have been on the verge of World War 3 because those doing it know that they could not emerge as victors from such a war.”

Putin accused the US and UK of planning the episode together, saying a US spy plane had taken off from Greece earlier on the same day to watch how Russia would respond to the British warship.

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He added: “It was obvious that the destroyer entered [the waters near Crimea] pursuing, first of all, military goals, trying to use the spy plane to see how our forces would stop such provocations, to see what is activated and where, how things work and where everything is located.

“We did this. But instead of reacting positively to this and saying, ‘OK, we’ve understood your response to our grumbling’ ‒ instead of that, what did they do? They barged across our borders.”

Russia-UK relations also took a turn for the worse in 2018 after the Salisbury attack, which saw Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia poisoned by Russian nationals via the use of the Novichok nerve agent.

Yulia regained consciousness and was able to speak. She was later discharged from hospital. Sergei was also in a critical condition until he regained consciousness one month after the attack.

However, a woman called Dawn Sturgess, who also came into contact with the Novichok, died.


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Then-Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the UK 10 days after the attack, laying down a statement of defiance to Putin.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who at the time was Foreign Secretary, found himself embroiled in a war of words with the Kremlin.

Following the attack, Mr Johnson blamed the Russian President personally and lambasted Moscow.

He said: “Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision, and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since World War 2.”

Mr Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer, acted as a double agent for the UK’s intelligence services during the Nineties and early Noughties – a possible motive for the attack.