Britain’s duty to the Black Sea

With Russian troops massing on Ukraine’s borders, the Black Sea is looking choppy. While that may seem to have little significance for us, in an age of globalised supply chains, international security commitments and Britain’s ‘tilt to the Indo-Pacific,’ that matters more than we might think. However, there is also an opportunity for the UK. In a report for the Council on Geostrategy that was published this week, I, James Rogers and Alexander Lanoszka, suggest that the Black Sea region is at risk of becoming an anarchic environment where insecurity reigns amid Russian domination. This matters. Rather than being seen as some distant periphery, at best a ‘flank’ of Europe,

Macron’s ambitions have been torpedoed by Aukus

Today France is outraged. First, explicitly because Australia has broken a large contract to have a French company design their submarines and for that contract to be switched to a US-UK substitute. Secondly, sotto voce, because Emmanuel Macron’s Indo-Pacific strategy has been shaken by an Australian, American and British strategic agreement entitled Aukus, to which France has not been invited. What are the facts of the matter? In 2016 Australia signed a contract with France to buy 12 conventional French-designed diesel-electric submarines for the Australian navy. The contract worth €35 billion was badged by the French as ‘the contract of the century’. In reality, only €8 billion was to go

The real reason Putin targeted HMS Defender

When military personnel talk of ‘theatres’ they mean a zone of conflict. Moscow seems to take the term increasingly literally, though, regarding spin as an essential tool of martial statecraft. This was especially visible in yesterday’s claims that its Border Guard ships fired warning shots and Black Sea Fleet Su-24 bombers dropped OFAB-250 fragmentation bombs because the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender ‘intruded’ onto Russia’s ‘territorial waters.’ After which, Moscow smugly noted, Defender ‘left’ those waters. Except that very little of that seems to be true. First of all, the waters in question were off Cape Fiolent, at the southern tip of the Crimean peninsula. By international law, the waters

Enforcing new fisheries policy isn’t ‘gunboat diplomacy’

No, the Channel isn’t going to erupt into naval warfare, and neither is the Prime Minister engaging in ‘gunboat diplomacy’ by deploying Royal Naval vessels to keep French fishing boats out of UK waters in the event of Brexit transitional arrangements ending on 31 December with no trade deal. Yet that seems to be the view of Tobias Ellwood the Conservative chairman of the Defence Select Committee, who protested to the Today programme this morning: ‘This isn’t Elizabethan times anymore, this is global Britain – we need to be raising the bar much higher than this.’ Actually – although it may be news to Mr Ellwood, even in his role