Rare naval incident in the Black Sea: Wednesday, June 23, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused London of “Blatant provocation” and summoned the British Ambassador after a Royal Navy ship, HMS Defender, approached the same morning the coasts of Crimea, the annexed Ukrainian peninsula, and a very sensitive maritime zone where the Russians are trying to establish their regional hegemony. In turn, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have fired warning shots at the British building, and even bombed its trajectory. London has denied any violation of international law.
According to Moscow, the HMS Defender, operating in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, violated Russia’s border and entered its territorial waters. The ship would have ventured 3 kilometers into Russian waters near Cape Fiolent, not far from the port of Sebastopol, seat of the Russian fleet. “The destroyer was previously warned of the possible use of weapons in the event of a continued illegal presence in the territorial waters of the Russian Federation. The crew of the British destroyer did not respond to the warning signals, as a result of which the Russian patrol vessel was forced to carry out warning shots ”, according to the official version put forward by the Russian Defense Ministry.
The Russian vessel reportedly fired warning shots and an SU-24M aircraft dropped bombs in the path of the British vessel. The Russian authorities have even published a precise “timing”: at 12:06 and 12:08, the warning shots. At 12:19 p.m., precautionary bombardment of the SU-24M along the destroyer’s path. At 12:23 p.m., the British ship was said to have left Russia’s territorial area. “The dangerous actions of the British Navy destroyer in the Black Sea [représentent] a flagrant violation of the United Nations convention ”, denounced the Russian Defense Ministry, which called “The British side to conduct a thorough investigation into the actions of the crew of the destroyer HMS Defender ».
“The waters of Crimea are not Russian”
“We believe the Russians were conducting gunnery exercises in the Black Sea and warned the maritime community of their activities. But no fire was directed towards the HMS Defender, and we deny the claim that bombs were dropped in its path ”, reacted a spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense. “The Royal Navy ship was not in Russian waters, it was taking an internationally recognized passage between Ukraine and Georgia”, said a spokesperson for Downing Street.
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