Ukraine: Royal Navy Black Sea plan sparks Russian conflict fears
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The British Government has been working with international allies to help break the Russian blockade of Ukraine and unlock rich supplies of much-need grain. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Lithuania’s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis is reported to raise the possibility of Royal Navy ships being sent into the Black Sea during a meeting with Liz Truss sparking concern over a Russian reaction was such an action to be undertaken.
Ms Brown told Talk TV’s Tom Newton-Dunn: “I do think it’s probably quite unlikely, however, the idea that warships would be able to go to Odesa and obviously escort those Ukrainian grain ships, and then back through the Bosphorous and on to other countries would be quite a tough challenge.
“There are obviously Russian warships operating not too far from Odesa and Russia also has the precision strike capability.
“So Western officials yesterday, were saying such a move would be very risky and would actually need support with the Russians, which has not been forthcoming so far.
“There’s also one other quite big issue the Ukrainians have laid mines in the seas around the Odesa and so actually would also have to remove those in order for NATO warships or warships from other countries such as Egypt to actually move in.
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The Times Defence Editor added: “The Lithuanian Foreign Minister was asked actually yesterday whether this will be an escalation in the war, and he was dismissing that it would be he was suggesting it would be a humanitarian mission, and obviously it would enable the Ukrainian grain to be able to feed some of the world’s poorest.
“But I think undoubtedly, of course, the idea that you’d send a British Navy warship or any other warship into the Black Sea when Russia is operating so closely nearby to help the Ukrainians is obviously going to be of significant risk to the British.
“That’s why I think this might be quite an unlikely prospect in the end, although it’s interesting that those talks are ongoing and people obviously want to make this happen.
“Liz Truss Truss the Foreign Secretary was in those talks yesterday and so you never know we could see it happen.”
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The UK and allies are working to help Ukraine export vital food supplies but there are “no current plans” for Royal Navy warships to help break Russia’s blockade.
The Government said it was working “intensively” with partners to find ways to allow grain exports to resume, as Cabinet minister Grant Shapps warned of famine causing more deaths than the invasion.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken has also discussed the situation in talks with his Ukrainian counterpart amid fears the Black Sea blockade is causing a global food crisis.
The idea of a “protective corridor” from Odesa was raised by Ms Landsbergis with the UK Foreign Secretary, The Times reported, with the potential for a “coalition of the willing” to provide ships.
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But the UK Government played down the prospect of Royal Navy warships risking a clash with Russia to break Vladimir Putin’s blockade.
A UK Government spokesman said: “Putin’s despicable blockade of Odesa is preventing food getting to people who need it.
“We will continue to work intensively with international partners to find ways to resume the export of grain from Ukraine.
“However, there are no current plans to deploy UK warships to the Black Sea.”
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