The admiral’s comments come amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine after three Ukrainian warships violated international law by illegally entering Russia’s territorial waters in what Moscow called a premeditated provocation orchestrated by Kiev.
Speaking with Daily Star Online, Admiral Lord Alan West said that sending a UK Royal Navy survey ship to Ukraine amid its heightened tensions with Russia was ‘not a clever idea’, suggesting sending a Type 45 class destroyer instead.
‘If we are sending a ship into an area that there might be fighting, it would be sensible to send a ship that can look after itself and that can fight’, he said.
He also warned that NATO’s actions may fuel tensions in the region following the incident in the Kerch Strait.
‘You have to think very carefully about deploying forces close to Russia. If we send a huge NATO force there it will be seen as an aggressive posture – but we could have a limited number of ships looking after freedom of navigation’.
Last week, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that London would deploy more troops and a Royal Navy ship to Ukraine to defend ‘freedom of navigation’.
‘As long as Ukraine faces Russian hostilities, it will find a steadfast partner in the United Kingdom’, he reportedly told his Ukrainian counterpart.
On Sunday, two gunboats and a tugboat sailed from the Black Sea toward the Kerch Strait, an entrance to the Sea of Azov, and ignored the Russian side’s legal demands to leave the area, proceeding with dangerous maneuvers instead.
As a result, Russia opened fire at the vessels and seized them, having also detained the sailors on board.