The UK has denied reports in Russian media that Russian patrol ships fired warning shots and a jet dropped bombs in the path of a UK warship near Crimea.
According to the Interfax news agency, citing Russia’s Ministry of Defence, HMS Defender travelled 3km within Russian territorial waters near the Crimean peninsula’s Cape Fiolent on Wednesday. When the British destroyer did not respond to a verbal warning, a patrol ship fired a warning shot and a Su-24 bomber dropped four high-explosive fragmentation bombs in its path.
However, the UK denied that such an incident had taken place.
“No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender,” the UK’s Ministry of Defence said. “The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.”
The Ministry of Defence continued: “We 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.”
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 in the aftermath of the Ukrainian revolution. The annexation drew international condemnation and led to Russia being expelled from what was then the G8.