Friday, 28 December 2018

Mistaken messages

The UK has a long and far from honourable tradition of ‘gunboat diplomacy’; sending warships to other countries as a visible demonstration of military power and the willingness to use it.  For ‘visible demonstration’ one can also read ‘sending a message’, which was the wording used by UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson to describe the despatch of HMS Echo to Ukraine.  The big problem with ‘sending messages’ however is that the message received may not be quite the one intended.  Whilst in theory sending a heavily-armed military vessel to a trouble spot might be intended to tell Putin not to further provoke Ukraine or else the UK might be willing to take action against him, sending a hydrographic survey vessel is more likely to be interpreted as ‘we haven’t actually got a proper military ship available at the moment’.  The effect on Putin is more likely to be laughing his socks off than quaking in his boots.

“…and then he said ‘any more nonsense from you and I’ll order the Royal Navy to undertake a hydrographic survey in the Black Sea’”


Anonymous said...

It's not just the ship involved which makes this whole story ridiculous. Ukraine's problem is that it Russia is effectively blocking access to the Sea of Azov and in particular, the Ukrainuan port of Mariupol. If Britain had really wanted to "send a message" to Putin, it would have sought to force access to that port. But instead it sent a ship to Odessa - far enough away from the disputed area that Russians might not notice the ship's presence at all.

dafis said...

The underlying message is, quite simply, "we're not real, just playing about at being a "major power" so bear with us while we strive harder to look the part". Russia could respond by putting a couple of real warships at the mouth of the Thames, just for a laugh !But would our self obsessed politicians see the joke ?