Russia says it fired warning shots at UK ship

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Moscow's defence ministry was quoted as saying that HMS Defender entered Russian territorial waters near Crimea while a patrol ship fired warning shots and a jet dropped bombs in its path.

The British embassy's defence attaché has been summoned to the Russian defence ministry, Interfax news agency reported.

Britain's Ministry of Defence said no Russian warning shots were fired at the Royal Navy's HMS Defender, which sailed into the Black Sea earlier this month, and it did not recognize assertions that bombs were put in its path.

At the root of the contradiction is the fact that Britain, and her allies including the USA, have never recognized Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, which they still consider as Ukrainian territory.

According to the military, the British warship was warned that deadly force would be used if it violated Russia's borders. The Russians said this, too, was a "warning".

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

"We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity".

HMS Defender is a Type 45 destroyer that is part of the UK's Carrier Strike Group.

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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. "It's incorrect to say either that it was sacked on or this ship was in Russian waters".

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday slammed Russia's "aggressive and provocative policy" in the Black Sea region, describing it on Twitter as a "constant threat" to Kiev and its allies.

According to Russian defence ministry, the incident took place off the coast of Cape Fiolent on Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"Moscow likewise reacted politically (in its own way), first spoofing Global Positioning System signals to try and present Defender and a Dutch frigate as aggressively heading straight for the Russian Black Sea Fleet base at Sevastopol. and now claiming - as they have in the past - to have "driven" the Royal Navy away by aggressive operations", he added.

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

Russian Federation captured 24 Ukrainian sailors as part of the seizure, returning them to Ukraine as part of a prisoner swap in September 2019. Moscow withdrew some of its forces after maneuvers, but Ukrainian officials say the bulk of them have remained.

Russia's relations with the West have sunk to the lowest levels since the Cold War, following Moscow's annexation of Crimea, accusations of Russian interference with elections, hacking attacks and other tensions.

"We aren't striving for a decisive, unilateral military advantage to tip the balance of forces in our favor", Putin said. The MoD has reported on thousands of maritime and aerial reconnaissance incidents along Russia's borders in the Arctic, the Baltic and Black Seas and the Russian Far East in recent years, with bloc spying operations complimented by regular North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and United States drills and troop deployments near Russia's borders.

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