Russia: Vladimir Putin 'is an opportunist' says Diggins

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The warship passed through the Dardanelles Strait and Bosphorus on Sunday as it made its way to Odessa. The Royal Navy has said the vessel, which is carrying a crew of 34, is in the troubled region to assert Ukraine’s “independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty”.

Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, a former commander of the Black Sea Fleet, said the UK’s ship posed “no serious threat” and appeared to dismiss the capabilities of the Royal Navy.

He told Interfax: “I would not even say that the British [navy] would be able to tickle our nerves.

“If a serious ship enters the Black Sea and there is an immediate threat then you can track it with weapons, as target designations are issued to coastal missile systems and aircraft, which are on duty.”

And Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, former chief of the Russian naval staff, said the Russians would be constantly monitoring the ship as it sails across the Black Sea.

He said the Trent would be “met” near the Bosporus Strait and tracked with the use of “radio equipment”.

He added: “Ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are constantly nearby until foreign naval ships leave the area. Of course, this is unpleasant.

“You will have to be distracted, keep an eye on them.”

The Russian National Defence Control Centre confirmed it was tracing the route of the Trent.

In a statement, they said: “The forces of the Black Sea Fleet have started tracking the movements of the British Navy patrol ship HMS Trent, which entered the Black Sea on 16 May 2021.”

Britain’s navy exercise with Ukraine comes after the country cried out to Europe for military help when Russian amassed troops and tanks on its border earlier this month.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as he tried to get support.

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Kiev is keen to join the EU but many figures in the 27-member body are opposed to the idea.

This week Ukraine joined two other former Soviet republics to cement their cooperation towards a more ambitious European integration.

During a meeting of foreign ministers in Kiev on Monday, representatives from Georgia and Moldova made their intentions clear.

The three countries signed association agreements with Brussels and reaffirmed their desire to be member states.

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova are now officially the Associated Trio.

“Today, we join forces on our European Integration path in this new format established in Kyiv.”

After scaling back the military exercise on the border with Ukraine, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin last week said the neighbour was fast becoming “anti-Russia”.

The strongman leader vowed that Moscow would be ready to react to what he called threats to its own security.

He said: “Judging by everything, and this is very sad, Ukraine is slowly but surely turning into some kind of polar opposite of Russia, some kind of anti-Russia, and into a platform from whose territory it seems we will constantly receive news requiring our special attention from a security point of view.”

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