Wednesday 23 June 2021 3:23 pm

Russia says Black Sea incident was 'blatant provocation' by Britain

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called the passage of a British warship in the Black Sea that was within earshot of fire from Russian guns “blatant provocation”.

UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace has since denied claims from the Russian ministry that Britain’s ambassador had been summoned over the incident.

“As I speak now, our ambassador has not been summoned,” Wallace told lawmakers.

“We are not surprised by it, we plan for it and we take all steps to make sure we are not escalatory or indeed provocative.

“However, we will not shy away from upholding international law and our rights on the sea.”

Wallace’s comments came after Russian ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told the media that Moscow would summon the British ambassador over the incident.

‘Warning shots’

The Ministry of Defence earlier hit back at a claim by Russia’s Defence Ministry that a British destroyer faced warning shots fired by Russian forces.

The Russian Defence Ministry had said the Royal Navy’s Defender crossed what it defines as the Russian sea border just off the Crimean coast.

A border patrol ship opened warning fire according to Russian official sources, before a Russian military airplane “performed a warning bombing” in the vicinity of the Defender.

However, the UK Ministry of Defence has said that no warning shots were fired at HMS Defender.

“The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.”

Defence partnership

The warning shots came in the same week that a UK Government minister signed an agreement to bolster a defence partnership with Ukraine.

The Memorandum of Implementation was in fact signed on the deck of the Defender.

Russia has claimed the waters since its invasion of Crimea in 2014, a territory it has since occupied to international disgust.

The UK does not recognise Russia’s control of Crimea, considering it a part of Ukraine.

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