London denies Russian allegations of warning shots hindered British destroyer from Crimean coast

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Canan Kevser
23 June 2021, 19:
Canan Kevser
23 June 2021, 19:

Britain on Wednesday rejected the Russian claims that warning shots were fired at one of its vessels in the Black Sea.

Russia said on Wednesday it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to chase it out of waters Moscow claims in the Black Sea off the coast of the occupied Crimea peninsula.

"No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender," the British Defense Ministry said in a statement. "The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law," the ministry wrote on Twitter.

According to the ministry, the Defender entered Russian territorial waters near Cape Fiolent in the Black Sea and did not respond to warnings of the Russian coastal forces.

"At 11:52 on June 23, the destroyer Defender of the British Navy, operating in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, crossed the state border of the Russian Federation and entered the territorial sea near Cape Fiolent for 3 km (1.86 miles)," the Russian statement said.

It added that a Russian coast guard ship then fired warning shots at the Defender and a Su-24 fighter jet carried out a warning bombing after which the destroyer turned back.

"At 12:06 and 12:08, a border patrol ship fired a warning shot. At 12:19, the Su-24M aircraft performed a warning bombing along the course of the Defender destroyer. Thanks to the joint actions of the Black Sea Fleet and the Border Service of the FSB [Federal Security Service] of Russia, the Defender destroyer left the borders of the territorial sea of the Russian Federation," read the statement.

However, British Defense Ministry said they "believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity."

"No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path," it added.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement that the ship "carried out a routine transit from Odesa towards Georgia across the Black Sea."

"As is normal for this route, she entered an internationally recognised traffic separation corridor. She exited that corridor safely at 0945 BST. As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity," he said.