Russia says it fired warning shots at a U.K. Warship, UK denies
Moscow said the Royal Navy destroyer was in its territorial waters. Britain said that no shots were aimed at the ship and that Russia had warned it was conducting a gunnery exercise.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has said that one of its naval vessels, on Wednesday, fired warning shots at a British Royal Navy destroyer Defender near Crimea in the Black Sea.
The Ministry that a Russian fighter jet also dropped bombs in the destroyer’s path after it entered Russian waters.
It claimed that the British ship had ventured almost two miles inside Russia’s territorial waters and had retreated immediately after the purported confrontation.
The ministry said the standoff took place near Cape Fiolent, near the port city of Sevastopol, where Russia maintains a large naval base.
“The destroyer had been warned that weapons would be used if it trespasses the Russian border,” the ministry said in a statement.
That statement, however, was at sharp variance with the Britain’s stance which quickly denied the statement.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense stated: “We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior warning of their activity”
It added: “No shots were directed at H.M.S. Defender and we do not recognize the claim that bombs were dropped in her path.”
Britain also denied that Russian claim, saying that the ship had been participating in NATO exercises at the time.
“The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law,” the ministry said in a statement on Twitter.
It could be recalled that Russia, in 2014, annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine prompting international condemnation and sanctions.
Ever since, the area around the peninsula in the Black Sea has become a point of military friction between Russia, Ukraine and NATO countries.
Reacting to reports of Russian actions claiming warning shots at the UK vessel in a statement, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kyleba, described Russia’s actions in the Black Sea as “aggressive and provocative”.
He noted that Russia’s “militarization of Crimea poses a lasting threat to Ukraine”.