Russia warning: Putin using ’intimidation tactics' on UK – 'dangerous actions' could erupt

BORIS JOHNSON has been warned Vladimir Putin and Russia are only using “intimidation tactics” against the UK at present but this could easily explode into “dangerous actions”.

Vladimir Putin discusses possibility of third world war

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Earlier this month, the Russian President boasted his country could have sunk Britain’s HMS Defender as week earlier as it would never have triggered World War 3 “because those who do it know that they can’t emerge as winners in that war”. Tensions between Moscow and London had exploded after Russia challenged the right for the presence of the UK’s huge ship in waters near the Russian-annexed Crimea, something Britain insisted it had every right to do.

Russia claimed it had fired shots and dropped bombs in the path of HMS Defender, which had been en-route from the Ukraine to Georgia.

Britain hit back at those claims and insisted it did not recognise that account of the events.

But Russian Mr Putin has sent a warning to the UK, adding to earlier warnings from Moscow it would bomb British naval vessels in the Black Sea in the event of further provocative actions near Crimea.

Speaking during his annual question and answer session with voters, Mr Putin was asked if the world has stood on the edge of World War 3 during the intense standoff with HMS Defender, he replied: “Of course not.

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Russia is using ‘intinidation’ tactics against the UK but this could escalate, an expert has warned (Image: GETTY)

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Vladimir Putin sent a huge hidden warning to the UK (Image: GETTY)

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

Dr Maryna Vorotnyuk, Research Fellow for Russia and Eurasia, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, said the threats coming from Russia’s “malign influence are real and significant” and there remains a risk of “unintended military escalation”.

But she added the recent incident involving HMS Defender saw Russia ensure the dispute did not spill into a “real fight” and was simply used for “political messaging”.

The expert told “Threats emanating from Russia’s malign influence are real and significant.

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HMS Defender got caught up in a standoff with Russia (Image: GETTY)

“There is always a risk of unintended military escalation, especially given that the Kremlin is less risk-averse and is ready for a dangerous brinkmanship.

“But the fact the Russian coast guard were cautious to engage with the UK warship in a way that this incident would not spill into a real fight means that Russian authorities are well aware of the risks and consequences of such an assault.

“The incident was used for political messaging: Russia has its ‘red lines’ in the Black Sea which need to be respected.

“At the same time, the Kremlin is aware that no Western government will ever recognise the annexation of Crimea.

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Boris Johnson has been warned of potential aggression from Russia (Image: GETTY)

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Russia’s military power explained (Image: EXPRESS)

“So, the strategic calculus is to dissuade the West from more robust presence in the region, including support to Ukraine and Georgia, and solidify the emerging status-quo on Russian terms.”

Dr Vorotnyuk believes for the time being, Russian tactics “will concentrate on intimidation” with “open assaults” on a NATO member “unlikely”.

But she warned “this does not exclude dangerous actions”, as Russia will increasingly refuse to tolerate NATO’s presence in the parts of the Black Sea it believes are breaking international law, a repeat of the incident with HMS Defender cannot be ruled out.

The expert added: Russian tactics most likely will concentrate on intimidation – coercion, diplomatic pressure and open assaults on a NATO country are unlikely.

“This does not exclude the dangerous actions: Russia routinely restricts the navigation in the parts of the Black Sea in violation of international law and will not put up with the increased NATO’s presence in the region.

“Incidents like the one with HMS Defender cannot be ruled out in the not-too-distant future.

“In this light effective deterrence strategy is a key because it helps to pre-empt even more dangerous large-scale confrontation and Freedom of Navigation operations challenging Russian claims in the Black Sea are a part of this strategy.”

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