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Government accused of resurrecting ‘gunboat diplomacy’ over deployment of warship in Black Sea

THE government was accused today of resurrecting “gunboat diplomacy” over its deployment of a missile-carrying warship in the Black Sea.

Communist Party of Britain (CPB) international secretary John Foster strongly condemned the government’s decision to sail the guided-missile warship HMS Defender inside Crimean territorial waters directly opposite Russia’s Sevastopol naval base.

He told the party’s political committee: “This is yet another instance of the Johnson government’s reckless disregard for international conventions as well as its wider participation in Nato’s dangerous military build-up in eastern Europe and off the coast of China.” 

Mr Foster pointed out that while the Conservative government planned to cut the budgets needed for a post-Covid recovery, military spending was to jump by 20 per cent over the next two years.

He said that flaunting the £1.2 billion warship spotlighted the government’s failure to grasp people’s anger over its mishandling of the Covid pandemic.

Mr Foster called for a maximum turnout tomorrow for the People’s Assembly demonstration, protesting against the Tory government’s pitiful treatment of key and public-sector workers as well as its plans to sneak through the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Lindsey German of the Stop the War campaign also slammed the government’s “aggressive move” following the warship’s deployment.

She asked: “What was the destroyer doing there in the first place? Why was there a BBC crew on board?

“It seems to me that with all the talk about global Britain and Britain’s place in the world, this is a very aggressive move by Britain, the same as sending an aircraft carrier to the South China Sea which is going on at the same time.

“All it is doing is making the world a more dangerous place, exacerbating tension.

“This sort of gunboat diplomacy should have disappeared a century ago, yet the government is wanting to resurrect its old imperial grandeur.”

Russia says it fired warning shots and dropped a bomb in the path of the destroyer in Crimean waters.

The British government said no warning shots were fired, and that Russia was carrying out pre-arranged gunnery exercises.

PM Boris Johnson has insisted HMS Defender was “entirely right” to voyage through the disputed waters.

The People’s Assembly demonstration will begin at noon in London’s Portland Place, for a march to Parliament Square.

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