United Kingdom Denies Russia Fired Warning Shots At British Naval Warship Near Crimea

A Russian patrol ship and fighter plane fired warning shots at a British Naval Warship as it traveled through waters near Crimea on Wednesday, according to Russian military reports.

The odd disagreement began on Wednesday morning when Russia’s military ministry accused the British warship HMS Defender of trespassing into Russian seas near the seized peninsula in the Black Sea. Following the British warship’s refusal to turn around, a Russian coast guard vessel fired warning shots and a Su-24m fighter dropped four bombs in the seas ahead of the British flagship, according to the ministry.

However, the Ministry of Defense in the United Kingdom has disputed that any warning shots were fired, implying that Russia is distorting the event.

“No bullets were fired at HMS Defender, and the notion that explosives were dropped in her route is false,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Russia was conducting a pre-planned naval exercise in the same region at the time, according to the ministry, and the “warning shots” reportedly fired by Russia might have been part of the drill.

HMS Defender was performing a “regular transit” via an internationally recognized transportation route, according to Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

“Russian warships trailed her voyage as is customary, and she was made aware of training activities in her general area,” Wallace said, according to the BBC.

However, a BBC journalist on board the HMS Defender claimed the warship’s passage through Crimean waters, which Russia claims sovereignty of following its 2014 takeover of Crimea, was a “planned action.” Crimea is considered occupied Ukrainian territory by the United Kingdom and the majority of the international world.

“We have just accomplished a transit into the territorial seas of Russian-occupied Crimea. “This was a planned move by the Royal Navy vessel,” Jonathan Beale, the BBC’s military reporter, said over the phone from the destroyer, which he claimed was currently heading to Georgia.

According to Beale, more than 20 Russian aircraft, including fighter planes, flew above the destroyer at points, while a Russian coast guard vessel moved to attempt to compel the destroyer to change course. He said he heard gunshots.

He didn’t disclose if he saw bombs thrown in the British ship’s course.

The waterways surrounding Crimea constitute a flashpoint in Russia’s and Ukraine’s continuing conflict. In 2018, Russia captured three Ukrainian navy boats and their sailors and has partially blocked Ukrainian warships’ access to the adjacent Sea of Azov. Tensions surrounding the sea heightened once again as Russia deployed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine as part of a military buildup that sparked a war fear in April.

According to Beale’s version, the British ship’s passage through Crimean seas was intended as a freedom of navigation gesture, indicating that the United Kingdom did not acknowledge Russian rule.

According to a BBC journalist, the British crew was on high alert as they passed through Russian-controlled seas.

“They did put on anti-flash masks to cover their faces at one point,” he added, “just in case there was going to be an exchange of fire.” “They didn’t believe it would happen, and it didn’t.” However, Russian planes were interested in the situation and cautioned the ship not to enter Crimean territorial seas, saying they were Russian waters,” Beale added.

The British ship was accused of making a “crude provocation” and breaking international law by Russia’s foreign ministry, which said it planned to call the British ambassador over the incident.

“Our defense ministry has previously issued a professional evaluation of the risky activities of the British naval ship in the Black Sea. According to the Russian news agency Interfax, Maria Zakharova said in a conference, “We classify it as a vulgar British provocation that goes against international law and Russian laws.”

The incident occurred at Cape Florent on the coast of Crimea, according to Russia’s military ministry, when the HMS Defender went three kilometers into Russian territorial seas just before midday local time. The warship, according to the report, left the area immediately after the guns were fired.

The ministry said the British vessel had breached the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and asked Britain to investigate, adding that Russia had previously informed the British defense attaché in Moscow of its stance.

HMS Defender had momentarily “peeled away” from a strike group conducting NATO defensive drills in the Mediterranean in order to “carry out her own set of duties in the Black Sea,” according to the Royal Navy.

According to the British embassy in Kyiv, the warship arrived at the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odesa last week. Russia is likely to interpret the ship’s presence as a sign of sympathy with Ukraine amid the tensions.

The event, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, is “concrete confirmation” of Ukraine’s view that Russia’s operations in the Black Sea are hazardous.

“Russia’s provocative activities in the Black and Azov seas, as well as its annexation and militarization of Crimea, represent a long-term threat to Ukraine and its allies. On Twitter, Kuleba said, “We need a new quality of collaboration between Ukraine and NATO allies in the Black Sea.”

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