Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday summoned the British ambassador to “vigorously protest” what it said was the violation of a British ship on its territory.
The dispute between Moscow and London broke out on Wednesday after HMS Defender passed near Crimea on the Black Sea, and Russia said it fired warning shots at the destroyer to avoid it. Britain denied the claim.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and claims the waters around the peninsula as part of its territory. Most countries, including the UK, did not recognize the acquisition and backed Ukraine’s claims on the waters.
In a statement Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned British Ambassador Deborah Bronnert and issued a “strong protest” to the British ship’s violation of Russian territory and her “provocative and dangerous actions. “.
“Should such provocations be repeated, all responsibility for their possible consequences will rest entirely with the British side,” the statement added.
Early Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the incident as a “deliberate and prepared provocation.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it fired warning shots and even dropped bombs along the path of HMS Defender before the ship left its territory.
London said it believed Russia was “conducting an artillery exercise” and had provided advance warning of its activity.
Incidents involving Western planes and ships are not uncommon on Russia’s borders, especially during intense tensions with Washington, Brussels and London, but they rarely result in open fire.
Wednesday’s incident comes ahead of the 2021 Sea Breeze military drills that will take place from June 28 to July 10 in the Black Sea.
The exercises, which bring together more than 30 countries, include the United States and Ukraine.
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