Russia Claims To Have Fired Warning Shots At British Warship
A Russian patrol ship has reportedly fired warning shots at a British warship in the Black Sea.
The shots were allegedly fired earlier today, June 23, reportedly as a consequence of Britain’s HMS Defender entering Russia’s territorial waters near Crimea.
Russia has had troops based in Crimea since April in the wake of rising tensions with Ukraine.
According to Moscow’s defence minstry, the shots were fired near Cape Fiolent in the south of Crimea, where a patrol ship is said to have fired warning shots and a fighter jet, an Su24-M, reportedly dropped four bombs in the HMS Defender’s path ten minutes later, BBC News reports.
The Russian ministry said, ‘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 Independent reports.
Moscow’s defence ministry confirmed the news of the shots, but the British Ministry of Defence has since denied any shots were fired.
It tweeted, ‘No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.’
‘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,’ the Ministry of Defence added in a separate tweet.
According to the Royal Navy’s website, the British warship is currently carrying out missions in the Black Sea. HMS Defender was seen near the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa at the beginning of the week. The UK is said to have an agreement with Ukraine to build warships and construct two naval bases together.
In the wake of Russia’s claims, Phillip Ingram, a former UK intelligence officer and military expert, has dubbed it unlikely that the British warship will have accidentally gone into Russia’s territory. He told The Independent, ‘The Defender possibly wasn’t pre-warned about the activity and strayed into an area near where it was happening. So the Russians have turned it into an info operation, and one that ties into Putin’s increasingly aggressive military stance on Ukraine in particular.’
Moscow has since summoned the British military attaché over today’s events.
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