THE National’s reporting of the Royal Navy/Russian Navy encounter in the Black Sea last week demands a robust response (UK denies claim Russia fired on HMS Defender, June 24). The posturing of our own Royal Navy was evenly matched by assets of the Russian Federation’s Black Sea fleet.

It all had a familiar look, like the regular encounters of impressive-looking Russian bombers and a brace – always a brace – of hastily scrambled RAF interceptors somewhere well north of our own territorial waters. Geopolitical morality tales both; both sides’ militaries benefit from careful preproduction akin to the best efforts of a West End show.

READ MORE: MoD documents 'show UK Government used Black Sea Russia clash as propaganda'

Manufacturing discontent is part and parcel of this latest iteration of information warfare. Of course sundry state broadcasters are part of the order of battle in these disinformation wars. In last week’s Crimean drama it happened to be a BBC reporter, well embedded on HMS Defender, the focus of last week’s faux Russian ire. Next week it could be RT. It’s often both. Political cheerleaders on both sides are also part of the cast, with often suitably lopsided analysis.

This time some bombs were apparently dropped and possibly ordnance fired off at a safe distance but close enough to be heard. Fire for effect, pyrotechnic as well as kinetic, has actually been standard practice since gunpowder was invented.

READ MORE: Russian jets 'buzz' UK warship after shots fired in Black Sea dispute

We are invited to conclude that we live in an new age of military conflict and disinformation. A contest that is at one and the same time illusionary and real. Currently, for instance, the Israeli Defence Forces are seen as sector leaders in the “art”. It was not always so.

Not surprisingly the “ great” Napoleon was a part master at this, having himself manufactured more than 10,000 bulletins – press releases to you and me.

He had a notable early success with his pre-emptive excuses for deserting his army in Egypt. From this at one end of his career through to preparing the groundwork for his legend at the other. The rest is history, literally thousands of different volumes of it.

Bill Ramsay
via email

NO-ONE seems to be asking the real question in the midst of this sorry saga in tbe Black Sea; what exactly is this monstrous piece of Union-jackery doing there anyway?

Why would any right-thinking government spend the colossal amount of money this must be costing, at a time when we have all the extra costs of a pandemic on our hands, but also when we have millions, yes millions, of our citizens unable to put sufficient food on their tables to feed their families?

If it had been sailing up the Baltic I could just about have gone along with the idea that it was giving moral support to the former parts of the Soviet Union situated there that are now independent countries. But the Black Sea!

Britain has no justification for being there at all at this moment in time. Sending the British Navy into that area was never going to go anywhere near to helping the peace of the world; it has all the hallmarks of the small boy poking a wasp’s nest with a piece of stick just to see what reaction he could get.

This action was never going to do anything which would help to find a solution to the illegal annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine by Russia, and can only make the situation worse.

I have no liking for Mr Putin and his regime, but this was a childish activity promoted by our childish Prime Minister which could have had calamitous consequences. Perhaps they should bear in mind that the forces of the Great British Empire do not have a particularly good history in that area of the planet.

George M Mitchell

WHAT a real pleasure to read Norman Lockhart’s letter on Saturday! It fair warmed the cockles of this auld internationalist’s hairt – assuming of course that any Scots hairt has cockles.

Cuba has existed as a socialist state since the beginning of 1959 – more than 60 years now – despite the fact that it’s less than 100 miles from the nearest point of the contiguous United States of America, the largest, richest, and most militarily powerful state the world had then yet known. And despite the fact that its close neighbour has, for abstruse political reasons, consistently boycotted all trade with the small socialist island since its birth. At the height of the Cold War this effectively forced Cuba into alliance with the USSR – a self-fulfilling political prophesy if ever there was one!

The USA still retains its boycott of its small neighbour – whose current population numbers less than 12 million folk, a tiny fraction of the US’s current 330 million – hence the recent vote at the United Nations to which Norman Lockhart’s letter refers. With only three abstentions – which did NOT include the UK – the motion calling for the lifting of the boycott was opposed by only TWO votes; predictably the USA and its (sometimes) obedient poodle, Israel. And SUPPORTED by the other 184 members of the UN.

Let’s just hope that when our independent Scotland forces Trident-armed nuclear subs from the Clyde, the USA doesnae impose a 60+year blockade on even smaller Scotland.

Dougie Harrison