Royal Navy warship HMS Diamond set to depart Portsmouth later today

A ROYAL Navy warship is planned to set sail from Portsmouth later today as the crisis between Ukraine and Russia continues to simmer.

Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 12:40 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 12:48 pm

The £1bn guided-missile destroyer HMS Diamond is understood to be leaving the city at 5pm.

A statement from the Ministry of Defence about her deployment is set to be released later in the day.

However, it is believed the vessel is heading to the eastern Mediterranean to provide reassurance to allies in the region amid the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

It is understood that HMS Diamond is set to leave Portsmouth later today. Picture: Steve Reid (121903-785)

As previously reported by The News, plans are in place for a Type 45 Destroyer to join HMS Trent in the region.

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That announcement was confirmed last week by prime minister Boris Johnson, during a press conference with Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

Britain is planning on increasing its military presence in the region, due to uncertain diplomatic relations between Russia and Ukraine.

At the press conference, Mr Johnson said Europe is in the grip of its deepest security crisis in decades, warning a Russian invasion would result in ‘serious bloodshed.’

More than 100,000 Russian troops have massed along the border of Ukraine. Intelligence officials in the UK and USA claimed that Russia could launch an invasion ‘at any time’ this week.

However, yesterday the Kremlin claimed it was pulling back some of its troops after completing a series of military drills.

Nato said the Russian announcement gave cause for ‘cautious optimism’ but that they had not seen evidence of de-escalation on the ground.

Dr Paul Flenley, senior lecturer in politics at the University of Portsmouth, and expert in Russian foreign policy, doesn’t see diplomatic talks progressing.

He told The News: ‘There is an impasse really.

‘From the west point of view, there is not going to be any change to the invitation for Ukraine to join Nato, which is one of the demands of Vladimir Putin.

‘There is also not going to be any withdrawal of NATO troops from former Soviet states.’

Dr Flenley added the implementation of the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements, interpreted by Moscow as giving semi-autonomy to republics in Luhansk and Donetsk, in east Ukraine, is unlikely.

He said Russian is playing the long game to try and wear down the Ukrainian government and the west.

He explained: ‘They want to create this continuous atmosphere of instability, anxiety, and threat, in the hope either the Ukrainian government would change its mind about NATO and about the eastern republics, or the west might decide to put more pressure on Ukraine by not accepting them in Nato.

‘Putin wants guarantees now.

‘My view is this will continue, as Putin has succeeded in bringing these issues to the forefront of the agenda, while suggesting to Nato his concerns about European security have not been dealt with.

‘He will keep that going until there is a resolution.

‘He’s reminding NATO that problems on the border will keep happening until there is a solution.

‘Putin’s prepared to play the long game, he doesn’t need to do that with invading, he can keep up military exercises on the border, or potentially intervene in eastern Ukraine and reinforce the independence of the republics.’

As reported by The News, 1,000 British troops are on standby, in case of a humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe, if war was to take place.

All six of the Royal Navy’s hi-tech destroyers are currently in dock, with HMS Dragon returning to Portsmouth earlier this week.

Each vessel in the £6bn fleet has a crew of roughly 280 sailors.

Patrol ship HMS Trent can house 45 sailors and can accommodate an embarked strike force of 50 Royal Marines.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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