Russia on Wednesday revealed that warning shots were fired by a border patrol ship at the British Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Defender, along with bombs being dropped in its path off the coast of Cape Fiolent on Crimea in Black Sea accusing the vessel of having violated the territorial waters.
The Russian defence minister in his statement said that the British destroyer had navigated 3 kilometres into the Russian waters despite the warning shots fired by the border patrol ship after which four bombs were dropped in the path of the HMS Defender by SU-24 jet, after which the vessel turned around.
The UK defence minister on the other hand denied the claims made by the Russian counterpart, stating that, “No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.”
Amidst the rising tensions between Russia and the western countries, the incident marked the first time after the cold war that Russia had used any sought of live ammunition to deter a NATO warship.
The UK minister in his statement intended that while HMS Defender was making innocent passage through the internationally recognized traffic separation corridor towards Georgia the Russian vessels shadowed its passage to make it aware of the training exercises being conducted in the nearby waters as he denied any sort of warning shots being fired. He added that transit through the corridor was completed at 9:45 BST.
The region of Crimea where the incident occured is believed to have been annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014 has witnessed tensions since. The NATO countries believe the incident to be Russia’s aggravated response to HMS Defender signing the contract at the Ukranian port of Odessa to help upgrade Ukranian Navy this week.
The UK defence minister’s recognition of the Russian territorial waters as Ukranian waters is bound to have a significant impact on the tense relations of the country. The Russian state media TASS has reported that the British defence attache in Moscow had been summoned regarding the incident.
The incident occured on the same day as the Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing an international conference said that the NATO alliance has refused to take any de-escalating measures to address the rising tensions.