Russia says it fired warning shots when a British destroyer crossed into waters it claims as its territory in the Black Sea near Ukraine on Wednesday.
Britain, however, is officially dismissing the incident off the Crimean coast as gunfire that was part of a military exercise.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that it sent an Su-24 attack aircraft to plunk four bombs in the sea near the HMS Defender. It also said that a border patrol ship fired to alert the Defender that it was in Russian waters where it was not wanted, according to Bloomberg.
“The destroyer had been warned that weapons would be used if it trespasses the border of the Russian Federation. It did not react to the warning,” the ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters.
Russia claimed the British ship at one point sailed two miles into Russian waters, but hightailed it and left Russian territory four minutes after the warning shots, according to Bloomberg.
Britain is commonly considered the United States greatest ally. Like the United States, it does not recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea, which took place during the Obama administration in 2014.
It also doesn’t recognize Russia’s claim to the waters off the Crimean coast.
The Defender had left the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Tuesday.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the incident highlighted Russia’s “aggressive and provocative policies” and showed that Russia was a “continuous threat to Ukraine and its allies.”
A clear proof of Ukraine’s position: Russia’s aggressive and provocative actions in the Black and Azov seas, its occupation & militarization of Crimea pose a lasting threat to Ukraine and allies. We need a new quality of cooperation between Ukraine & NATO allies in the Black Sea. https://t.co/VjBPxRWU3d
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) June 23, 2021
Britain downplayed the incident.
“We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity,” Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Twitter.
We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity.
No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path.
— Ministry of Defence Press Office (@DefenceHQPress) June 23, 2021
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said HMS Defender was “shadowed” by Russian ships and “she was made aware of training exercises” in the area, according to ABC News.
He dismissed Russia’s version of events.
“These are the things that come and go with Russia,” he said, according to ABC. “Disinformation, misinformation is something that we have seen regularly. We’re not surprised by it; we plan for it.”
Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, on Wednesday separately said Western nations have been asking for trouble, according to ABC.
“The moves by warships of the U.S. and its allies have been clearly provocative,” Gerasimov said. “It creates preconditions for incidents and doesn’t help ease tensions in the military sphere.”
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