Russian forces clash with British warship HMS Defender in military encounter in Black Sea

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Russia claims one of its warplanes dropped bombs and a patrol boat fired warning shots to roll back a British destroyer it claims entered its territorial waters in the Black Sea.

The UK Ministry of Defense denied Moscow’s accusation, saying the ship, HMS Defender, was making legal and innocent passage.

A BBC reporter aboard the ship said he saw Russian warplanes and warships buzzing around the destroyer.

Russia said the ship traveled three kilometers (1.9 miles) inside Russian territory off Cape Fiolent in Crimea just before noon local time on Wednesday. A country’s territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometers) from its coastline. Any foreign warship exceeding this limit would need the country’s permission to do so, with a few exceptions.

Shortly after the British ship crossed the territorial border, a Su-24M attack plane dropped bombs and a coastal patrol vessel fired warning shots in front of the British destroyer, the Russian Ministry of Justice said. Defense in a report by Russian state media TASS.

British officials rebuffed the Russian allegations.

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“This morning, HMS Defender made a routine transit from Odessa to Georgia across the Black Sea. As is normal for this route, it entered an internationally recognized traffic separation corridor. It exited from this corridor safely at 0945 BST. Ships monitored her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider neighborhood, “UK Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace said in a tweet.

Britain’s Defense Ministry also said no warning shots were fired at its destroyer on Wednesday, contrary to the Russian Defense Ministry’s assertion, quoted by TASS.

“No warning shot was fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship is making an innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law. We believe the Russians were undertaking an artillery exercise in the Black Sea and warned the maritime community of their activity, ”the UK Ministry of Defense press office said in a statement.

“No fire was directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognize the claim that bombs were dropped in its path,” the statement added.

BBC reporter Jonathan Beale was on board the ship during the incident and reported that he had been harassed by the Russian military. The plane could be heard above him during his audio report.

“Increasingly hostile warnings were issued over the radio, including one that said ‘if you don’t change course I’ll shoot,'” Beale wrote on the BBC website. “We heard shots in the distance, but we thought they were way out of range.”

TASS reported that the Russian Defense Ministry told reporters that the Russian Black Sea Fleet, together with the Federal Border Security Service, “had put an end to a violation of the Russian border” by the ship.

The department said in a statement that it had “called on the British side to conduct a full investigation into the actions of the crew of the destroyer ‘Defender’ in order to avoid similar incidents in the future.”

His statement also said that the British defense attaché at the UK embassy in Moscow was summoned to the Ministry of Defense to discuss the incident. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova later said the British ambassador would be summoned to the ministry, according to TASS.

The ministry told Russian state media that the British destroyer left Russian territorial waters at 12:23 local time.

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The Russian accusations on Wednesday follow a report by the US Naval Institute News (USNI) on Monday that open source intelligence data on the positions of the British destroyer and a Dutch frigate was rigged on June 18 and 19 to show them sailing within two nautical miles of a Russian naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea.

The runway was shown from an automatic identification system (AIS) signal, which transmits position details of vessels to improve maritime safety, according to the USNI report. But live webcams from the port of Odessa showed the two warships there as the AIS signal showed them near Sevastopol, USNI reported.

A tweet published Tuesday on behalf of the British warship said that Ukrainian and British defense officials had signed an agreement aboard the Defender for Ukraine to “improve its naval capabilities” with the help of the British contractor. Babcock defense.

It is a move that would likely attract the wrath of Moscow, which annexed Crimea to Ukraine after military intervention in the region in 2014. The international community has opposed this annexation and considers Crimea to be Ukrainian territory.

Relations between Russia and NATO allies have been strained in the Black Sea since annexation.

Russian warplanes have buzzed US destroyers during routine operations in the Black Sea, and US reconnaissance planes regularly patrol overhead.

HMS Defender is part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group 21, which the UK Ministry of Defense calls “the largest concentration of sea and air power to leave the UK in a generation”. The flotilla is led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and American and Dutch warships are also deployed with the group.

A tweet from the HMS Defender account announced on Tuesday that it was leaving the Ukrainian port of Odessa, accompanied by the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.

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