Russia fires warning shots at British ship in Black Sea

23 Juin, 2021, 17:09 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • Russia fires warning shots to deter UK warship in Black Sea

FILE - The Russian military says its warship fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs to force the British destroyer from Russia's waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.

The incident marked the first time since the Cold War that Moscow has used live ammunition to deter a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation warship, reflecting growing risks of military incidents amid soaring Russia-West tensions.

He charged that the British destroyer Dragon intruded into the Russian waters near Crimea in October, and the US destroyer John McCain violated the Russian border in the Sea of Japan in November.

The Russian ministry said its warship fired warning shots after the British missile destroyer HMS Defender had ignored a notice against intrusion in Russia's territorial waters.

Shortly afterwards, the report claimed, a SU-24M - a Cold War-era Russian supersonic interceptor/bomber - dropped four "high explosive fragmentation bombs" across the course of the ship.

The UK instead said it believed the "Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity".

But the UK's defence ministry swiftly denied that the incident had happened at all.

A spokesman said: "No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender".

"The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with worldwide law".

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The Russian Defence Ministry has summoned the attache on defence matters from the British Embassy in Moscow over the incident.

It said the confrontation occurred near Cape Fiolent, a landmark on the southern coast of Crimea near the port of Sevastopol, headquarters of the Russian Navy's Black Sea fleet.

On Wednesday, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement that the HMS Defender had been carrying out a "routine transit from Odesa towards Georgia across the Black Sea". The MoD has reported on thousands of maritime and aerial reconnaissance incidents along Russia's borders in the Arctic, the Baltic and Black Seas and the Russian Far East in recent years, with bloc spying operations complimented by regular North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and U.S. drills and troop deployments near Russia's borders.

"The moves by warships of the US and its allies have been clearly provocative", Gerasimov said at an worldwide security conference in Moscow organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.

The US periodically sends warships to the region in a show of support for Ukraine, often drawing protests from Russian Federation.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the incident showed that Russia's "aggressive and provocative policies" in the Black Sea and nearby Azov Sea constituted a "continuous threat to Ukraine and its allies".

At the height of tensions over Ukraine this spring after Russian Federation built up troops on its border and in Crimea, Moscow stepped up military exercises in the Black Sea and Washington warned it would send two warships.

The Defence Ministry has concentrated special attention to ensuring the security of Crimea, with pro-Western authorities in Kiev and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations refusing to recognise Russian jurisdiction over the peninsula, notwithstanding a popular referendum which saw the overwhelming majority of the territory's residents vote to break off from Ukraine and rejoin Russia in early 2014 in the aftermath of the Maidan coup.

"By worldwide law, of course, the waters off Crimea are not Russian, as the annexation is not recognised", Mark Galeotti, a professor of Russian studies at University College London, tweeted Wednesday.

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