KYIV, Ukraine — Following last week’s encounter with a British destroyer off the coast of Crimea, Ukraine and NATO started Black Sea drills involving dozens of warships.
On Wednesday, Moscow claimed that one of its warships fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs in the route of the British destroyer Defender in a region near the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia invaded in 2014.
Britain rejected the claim, claiming that its ship was not shot at and that it was traveling in Ukrainian seas.
About 30 warships and 40 planes from the United States, NATO partners, and Ukraine are expected to participate in the Sea Breeze 2021 drills, which began Monday and will continue for two weeks. The US destroyer Ross has landed in Odesa, Ukraine, for the maneuvers.
The high number of participants in the exercise, according to US Navy Capt. Kyle Gantt demonstrates a common commitment to preserving open access to international seas.
Britain claimed the Defender was on a regular voyage in an internationally recognized transit lane and remained in Ukrainian seas near Crimea during the incident on Wednesday. Despite Russia’s takeover of Crimea, the United Kingdom, like the rest of the world, acknowledges the peninsula as part of Ukraine.
Russia condemned the Defender’s action as a provocation and warned that if invading vessels tried to test Russian military resolve again, it might be fired upon.