Russia and Ukraine clashes have intensified in recent weeks as Moscow’s military presence has increased along the border. Kyiv said Russia had put more than 40,000 troops on the eastern border and more than 40,000 in Crimea. The escalated presence has prompted Ukrainian allies to offer greater support. Experts suggest that the prospect of immediate war is unlikely, but others believe a mass invasion is possible.
Russia and the UK are both sending warships to the Black Sea as tensions between Moscow and Ukraine worsen.
Vladimir Putin sent two warships through the Bosphorus on Saturday, April 17.
The country is sending some smaller ships in its Caspian and Baltic fleets as well to bolster its presence in the Black Sea.
Western allies have rallied behind Ukraine over Moscow’s military aggression, but have stopped short of committing to additional military aid or sanctions.
However, in response to Russia increasing its battleship presence in the Black Sea, Britain will deploy warships to the area in May amid rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
The deployment is aimed at showing solidarity with the country and its NATO allies.
One Type 45 destroyer armed with anti-aircraft missiles and an anti-submarine Type 23 frigate will leave the Royal Navy’s carrier task group in the Mediterranean and head through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea.
The BBC’s Andrew Marr today grilled the UK’s Russian ambassador about the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
The Russian ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin claimed that Russia is not looking for war, but insisted “Russia will respond if Ukraine starts a bloodbath”.
He told Andrew Marr: “We are moving troops to tell Ukraine that there will be a price if they decide to advance on this territory and make a bloodbath on it.”
The Russian official added the number of troops at the Ukraine border are part of a “normal military exercise”.
The announcement about the deployment came after Russia ordered a Ukrainian diplomat to leave the country after allegedly receiving classified information from a database of Ukraine’s main security agency.
Ukraine has responded by expelling a Russian diplomat.
Oleksandr Sosoniuk, the Ukrainian consul in St Petersburg, was detained on Friday while meeting with a Russian in which he obtained material from a database of the Federal Security Service (FSB), according to the agency.
The FSB said Mr Sosoniuk was caught “red-handed: during a meeting with a Russian national.
The agency said: “Such activity is not compatible with his diplomatic status and is of clearly hostile nature towards the Russian Federation.
“In conformity with international law, measures will be taken against the foreign diplomat.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain stands in “full support” of the Czech Republic after expulsions in the country.
The comments came after the Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian envoys over an ammunition depot blast in 2014.
The move has triggered the largest row with Russia since the end of the communist era in 1989.
Czech police announced they were seeking two men in connection with serious criminal activity.
These individuals were carrying Russian passports in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.
Eastern Europe Analyst at The EIU Matthew Sherwood said the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has been “looking increasingly fragile” since 2021 began.
Mr Sherwood told Express.co.uk said: “The crisis is important globally because ultimately it pits Russia against the West, which does not recognise Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and also demands that Russia respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, as defined by the pre-2014 borders.
“While the conflict has been at a stalemate in recent years, relations between Russia and the West have been tested by the poisoning and killing of various anti-Kremlin figures.
“Most recently, the attempted poisoning and now imprisonment of a Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has further soured relations and resulted in further tit-for-tat sanctions.
“It should be noted that since 2014 Russia has faced significant sanctions levied by the West, which have significantly curbed investment in its all-important hydrocarbons industry.”
He added: “As a member of NATO, Britain could potentially be brought into any escalation of the conflict that also entails the transatlantic military alliance.
“Although such an escalation is not part of our core forecast, neither can it be discounted altogether.
“The UK’s relationship has markedly worsened in recent years after the UK escalated its sanctions regime against Russia following the 2018 poisoning of former Russian operative Sergei Skripal on UK soil.”