Ministers are facing a grill by today’s parliamentarians on how a document containing details of the deployment of sensitive naval vessels in the Black Sea was found at a bus stop.
The Pentagon confirmed last week that employees reported lost documents after telling the BBC that an anonymous civilian had found 50 pages of confidential information in Kent.
Shadow Defense Secretary John Healy was given an urgent question at the Commons on Monday on this issue. He called the case “as embarrassing as the minister was worried.”
The treatise contained a series of documents discussing Russia’s potential reaction to HMS defenders moving in the Ukrainian waters off the Crimea coast. This is the move that triggered the Russian military reaction.
Another document shows a potential plan for the British military footprint in Afghanistan.
HMS Defenders are part of a carrier strike group heading to the Indo-Pacific on a mission advertised by the government as a symbol of the long-awaited eastern pivot of foreign policy, and are more wary of China.
However, the Type 45 destroyer was temporarily detached from the carrier strike group and carried out its mission in the Black Sea.
When the destroyer passed through the high seas south of the Crimean Peninsula (Russia annexed in 2014), a reaction from Russian troops was triggered.
Several Russian military aircraft have cast shadows on the ship. One is 500 feet high, and Defense Minister Ben Wallace said it was “neither safe nor expert.”
Russian troops said they fired what it described as warning shots from their ships on destroyers. This characterization was rejected by the Ministry of Defense, which stated that only routine “fire exercises” were conducted.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that the warship was “perfectly correct” for traveling from Odessa to Georgia in Ukraine as an internationally recognized transportation route.
The Pentagon said the HMS Defender “innocent passage through Ukrainian waters in accordance with international law.” He states that “all potential factors” are taken into account when making “operational decisions.”
Moscow threatens to retaliate if the incident is repeated.
A Pentagon spokesperson said: We took information security seriously and started an investigation. The employee involved reported the loss at that time. It would be inappropriate to comment any further. “
PA contributed to this report.