United Kingdom denies claims Russian Federation fired warning shots, dropped bombs near British ship

United Kingdom denies claims Russian Federation fired warning shots, dropped bombs near British ship

United Kingdom denies claims Russian Federation fired warning shots, dropped bombs near British ship

Moscow had said a Russian military ship fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of HMS Defender after it entered Russian waters in the Black Sea off the coast of the Crimea peninsula, according to the Interfax news agency.

A retired Russian admiral has said Russia did nothing wrong in firing the warning shot at the British destroyer.

But the British Defense Ministry soon denied that any warning shots had been fired at the HMS Defender, adding that "The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with worldwide law".

The Defence Ministry has concentrated special attention to ensuring the security of Crimea, with pro-Western authorities in Kiev and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations refusing to recognise Russian jurisdiction over the peninsula, notwithstanding a popular referendum which saw the overwhelming majority of the territory's residents vote to break off from Ukraine and rejoin Russia in early 2014 in the aftermath of the Maidan coup. The Russians said this, too, was a "warning".

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has dismissed the reports from Russian Federation that warning shots were fired at HMS Defender, insisting it was a routine gunnery exercise and the Royal Navy vessel was "conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with worldwide law".

Reporting on Wednesday's stand-off, the Moscow Times, an independent English-language newspaper, picked up on a news report from the U.S. Naval Institute that someone had faked HMS Defender's open-source positioning data to make it appear that the British ship and another North Atlantic Treaty Organisation vessel were sailing directly towards the Sevastopol headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "This morning, HMS Defender carried out a routine transit from Odesa towards Georgia across the Black Sea. As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity", Wallace added. "We need a new quality of cooperation between Ukraine & NATO allies in the Black Sea", Kuleba tweeted. It said a Russian Su-24 bomber also dropped four bombs ahead of the British ship's path to persuade it to change course.

Defender, a Type 45 guided missile destroyer, had been with a U.K carrier group in the Mediterranean but peeled off earlier this month and had just left the Ukrainian port of Odessa, where officers witnessed the signing of a United Kingdom.

Russian Su-24 Black Sea incident
A Russian Navy Su-24M

However, it was announced earlier this month that it would be temporarily breaking away from the group to carry out its "own set of missions" in the Black Sea.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria all are on the Black Sea.

The UK has said its the presence of HMS Defender is part of an operation that demonstrates the country's commitment to maintaining a regular Royal Navy presence in the Western Balkans.

The warship was in the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa earlier this week, according to the British embassy in Ukraine.

Earlier on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia was "concerned" about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation build-up near Russian borders.

"We aren't striving for a decisive, unilateral military advantage to tip the balance of forces in our favor", Putin said.

"Nato.is something that was born in the Cold War area", he said.

RIA Novosti reported that the Russian Defense Ministry summoned Britain's military attache following the incident.

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