Shots fired as Brits enter Black Sea and Russian ire,

Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow on Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

What really happened between Russian forces in Crimea and the British destroyer HMS Defender today is wholly unclear. Maybe, as the British admiralty says, the Russians were conducting live fire exercises in the vicinity and warned the British of this. Maybe, as the Russians say, they deliberately fired nearby to warn the British ship to leave what Russia claims are its territorial waters, which the British ship deliberately entered to challenge this Russian claim.

The episode does however highlight the dangers involved in using warships or warplanes to make diplomatic or legalistic points. The danger of an accidental collision is always present, and the resulting international crisis may spiral beyond anything that either side would have wished or can control. […]

We should also remember the hysteria in our own media and security establishments when the ships and aircraft of rival powers approach our own air space and territorial waters. In recent weeks, the U.S. media has engaged in panicky speculation about the appearance of two (two) Iranian warships in the Atlantic Ocean (apparently viewed by the journalists and analysts concerned as an American lake). Läs artikel