United Kingdom denies claims Russian Federation fired warning shots, dropped bombs near British ship

23 Juin, 2021, 16:39 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • ODESA UKRAINE- JUNE 18 2021- HMS Defender of the Royal Navy arrives at the port of Odesa southern Ukraine

The UK Defence Ministry commented on the incident on Wednesday afternoon, denying that any warning shots were fired, and saying its warship was conducting an "innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with global law". "It did not react to the warning", it said.

According to Russian defence ministry, the incident took place off the coast of Cape Fiolent on Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity".

The Royal Navy said earlier in June that HMS Defender "peeled away" from the U.K.'s carrier strike group in the Mediterranean "to carry out her own set of missions in the Black Sea".

After the incident, Russia's defence ministry summoned Britain's military attaché, Interfax reported. Earlier this month, the MoD indicated that it would be closely watching NATO's annual "Sea Breeze" drills, involving Ukrainian and alliance forces, including 4,000 servicemen, 40 warships, and 30 aircraft, once they kick off on 28 June.

"As is normal for this route, she entered an internationally recognised traffic separation corridor", he said, in a statement shared by the ministry on Twitter. It said that a Russian Su-24 bomber also dropped four bombs ahead of the British ship to persuade it to change course.

Earlier this week, open-source intelligence analyst H I Sutton reported that the HMS Defender and the HNLMS Evertsen's AIS signals showed the ships to have "travelled" from Odessa to within two nautical miles of Sevastopol harbour - the highly sensitive military port home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The UK does not recognise Russia's claim to Crimea, in line with the global consensus that Russia's annexation of Crimea is illegal.

It is often the case in incidents where one country alleges the warship of another has entered their territorial waters of another, the facts are heavily contested. "We need a new quality of cooperation between Ukraine & NATO allies in the Black Sea", Kuleba tweeted.

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The Royal Navy's Type 45 Destroyer, HMS Defender.

"Moscow likewise reacted politically (in its own way), first spoofing Global Positioning System signals to try and present Defender and a Dutch frigate as aggressively heading straight for the Russian Black Sea Fleet base at Sevastopol. and now claiming - as they have in the past - to have "driven" the Royal Navy away by aggressive operations", he added.

The Russian military began tracking the HMS Defender and the Royal Netherlands Navy's HNLMS Evertsen frigate on 14 June after the pair of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation warships entered the Black Sea.

The U.K. Ministry of Defense said it was aware of the reports but had no immediate comment. Warships from the US, United Kingdom and other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies also have made increasingly frequent visits in a show of support for Ukraine.

Speaking on Wednesday just before the incident, General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, sharply criticised the deployments of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation warships near Russian waters.

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

In April, Russia imposed restrictions on foreign navy ships' movements near Crimea until November in a move that drew strong complaints from Ukraine and the West.

"The destroyer had been warned that weapons would be used if it trespasses the border of the Russian Federation". Moscow withdrew some of its forces after maneuvers, but Ukrainian officials say the bulk of them have remained.

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