Why Britain’s friends and adversaries will have watched the Russia confrontation closely

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The flare-up between a Royal Navy warship and Russian forces near Crimea on Wednesday will have been watched far beyond the Black Sea — and could have repercussions involving a number of Britain’s allies and foes.

The incident, which has sparked a tense back-and-forth between London and the Kremlin has experts talking.

“It’s never about what is happening in a particular place; it’s all about others who are watching and the conclusions they are drawing,” said Nigel Gould-Davies, senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London. “I think it is right now to focus on the wider context and the longer term lessons from this.”

Britain likely expected some form of response when it decided to sail the destroyer HMS Defender through waters near Crimea — the region of Ukraine that Russia has annexed since 2014, but which is internationally recognized as Ukrainian territory.

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