Putin accuses the United Kingdom and the United States of initiating a “provocation” in the Black Sea to measure Russia’s response

Russian President Vladimir Putin has defined the British destroyer’s navigation through the Black Sea as a “provocation” HMS Defender to which the Russian Army responded by firing warning salvos a week ago. The Russian leader has also accused the United States on Wednesday of being involved, along with the United Kingdom, in an incident that, he said, was intended to test the reaction of Moscow, which considers the waters off the coast of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula as its own. it was illegally annexed in 2014.

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During the traditional television show Direct line, a marathon staple on his political agenda for two decades and in which he answers questions from citizens from the most remote parts of the country, Putin boasted that Russia could have sunk the British ship (and therefore part of NATO) without starting the third world war despite this. “[En Occidente] they know that they cannot emerge as winners in that war, and that is very important, ”Putin boasted in response to a question about whether the world is closer to another armed conflict on a global scale today.

Putin assured that shortly before the incident with the HMS Defender British, an American reconnaissance plane took off from Greece to test the Russian response and to try to obtain military information. Moscow was aware of Washington’s intentions, the Kremlin chief assured, and responded accordingly. Russia used “warning fire” and “precautionary bombardment” along the course of the British ship to force it to leave the waters off Crimea. A day later, The Hague reported that Russian warplanes flew dangerously close to a Dutch warship sailing off the Crimea.

The ‘HMS Defender’, of the British Royal Navy, arrives at the port of Odessa on June 18Europa Press

Following Putin’s statements on the event, which further heated tensions between Russia and the West, the United Kingdom insisted on Wednesday that the HMS Defender he was making a routine trip through an internationally recognized traffic lane that remained in Ukrainian waters.

The Russian president attributed a certain political aspect to the episode of the ship, which occurred a week after his summit in Switzerland with the president of the United States, Joe Biden, to try to redirect relations between Washington and Moscow, which are experiencing their worst moment in decades. “The meeting in Geneva had just happened. So why was this provocation necessary, what was its objective: to underline that these people do not respect Crimea’s choice to join Russia ”, said the Russian leader, referring to the vote held in Crimea – under the Russian military presence – in 2014 and with which the Kremlin consecrated the annexation not recognized by the international community.

Putin on the 'Direct Line' program, this Wednesday in Moscow.
Putin on the ‘Direct Line’ program, this Wednesday in Moscow.SERGEI SAVOSTYANOV / SPUTNIK / KRE / EFE

Putin, supreme leader and savior

The coronavirus pandemic, which is causing record mortality figures these days in Russia, which is experiencing a third wave driven by the Delta variant, poor vaccination and a fictitious feeling that the virus has been defeated, did not allow Putin to celebrate in 2020 his Direct line. Broadcast live on state channels, the event has become a sample of the vertical structure of the Russian state: a formula with which Putin shows that he is the supreme leader and savior, who listens and gives answers to the citizens, who, Like this Wednesday, he turns to him to solve all kinds of issues: from a town that does not have gas, another that has already very poor flooded roads, the clarification that the State will not assess the possession of sheep or answers why Russian carrots are today more expensive than Ecuadorian bananas.

Also the case of Elena Kalinina, a grandmother from the city of Novokuznetsk (central Russia), who after trying to raise the problems in the facilities of the nursery school where her granddaughter attends said that the local authorities threatened to take away custody of the girl if she did not withdraw the complaint. “Consider that this problem has disappeared,” Putin replied with a serious gesture. “That those who are threatening her think better about their problems,” said the Russian leader, a former KGB agent, who promised not only to solve the case and repair the school, but also to speak with the governor of the region, to whom he left a commission. : “Pay attention to those officials who started intimidating the people they should be working for. I hope that he makes the correct and timely decisions and informs me about it ”.

Putin has devoted almost four hours of the program to questions sent from different parts of the country. Sometimes from remote regions with which the digital connection was faltering. However, after a couple of episodes of technical difficulties, midway through the program, the presenters assured that Direct line he was being the victim of a cyberattack. “Everybody talks about Russian hackers,” one of them joked, before Putin’s smile.

The Russian leader received more than a million questions devoted mainly to domestic politics and issues such as inflation, infrastructure or the economic crisis derived from the pandemic; issues that are increasing social unrest and taking a toll on its popularity. But there were also more personal questions – “what songs do you sing in your spare time?” or “who irons your shirts?” – and others focused on international affairs. Like one about Ukraine, after which Putin accused the government of the neighboring country of having become a puppet of the United States and of being anti-Russian, unlike the citizenry. “I don’t think the Ukrainian people are hostile. No, none of that, we are a whole. But today’s leadership clearly hostile to us, ”he said.

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