Britain accuses Russia of sowing inaccuracies over Black Sea warship incident

Britain on Thursday accused Russia of giving an inaccurate account of an incident in the Black Sea in which Moscow said it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British destroyer off the coast of Russia-annexed Crimea.

Russia, one of the world’s biggest military powers, said the British warship had breached its territorial waters – which Britain and most of the world say belong to Ukraine – and cast Britain’s actions as a blatant provocation.

Britain disputed Russia’s account, saying no warning shots had been fired and that no bombs had been dropped in the path of the Royal Navy destroyer Defender. read more

“No shots were fired at HMS Defender,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told reporters in Singapore during a visit to discuss trade deals.

“The Royal Navy ship was conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters. We were doing so in accordance with international law and the Russian characterization is predictably inaccurate.”

Russia seized and annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and considers areas around its coast to be Russian waters. Western countries deem Crimea to be part of Ukraine and reject Russia’s claim to the seas around it.

Russia said the British ship had ventured as far as 3 km (2 miles) into Russian waters near Cape Fiolent, a landmark on Crimea’s southern coast near the port of Sevastopol, headquarters of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet.

Britain sought to play down the warship incident while accusing Moscow of disinformation.

“These are things that come and go with Russia; disinformation, misinformation is something that we have seen regularly,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said. “We are not surprised by it, we plan for it.”

Britain’s BBC released footage from the ship showing a Russian officer warning that he would shoot if the British ship did not change course. Russia released footage filmed from a Russian SU-24 bomber flying close to the British ship.

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