A British Royal Navy destroyer has been 'expelled' from waters off the Crimean coast after crossing into Russian territory, Russia's security service claims.
HMS Dragon was allegedly expelled by Russian naval and air forces in October 2020, but has only been made public now.
However, the Ministry of Defense on Thursday categorically denied Russian claims.
General Vladimir Kulishov, deputy director of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), claimed that the vessel ignored the naval forces’ “warnings” not to enter “Russian territorial waters,” and finally “crossed the state border of the Russian Federation in the area of Cape Khersones in the Black Sea.”
Kulishov explained that after crossing in, “the destroyer's captain responded with a poor signal to the demand to immediately leave Russian territorial waters.”
“As a result of the joint actions with the Russian Navy and the Russian Aerospace Forces, the warship was expelled into neutral waters,” Kulishov said.
The Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon had claimed the right of innocent passage in waters near the westernmost point of Sevastopol, while Kulishov said that his government saw the ship's actions as “unfriendly.”
Sevastopol, as a major port on the Black Sea and as a federal city of the Russian Federation, is the site of the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
Claiming that the Russian Federation Navy “did not impede HMS Dragon’s passage,” Royal Navy’s spokesperson said that “HMS Dragon was taking the most direct route between two port visits, navigating a recognized safe route for all international shipping within Ukrainian waters.”
The news of the expelling comes on the heels of reports that the UK is sending two further warships to the Black Sea.
One of the UK warships, known as HMS Trent, is already patrolling in the sea and has been to the Ukrainian port of Odessa, where HMS Dragon conducted training operations with the Ukrainian navy last year.
HMS Trent is to remain in Odessa until 4 June according to Reports Ukraine and is “preparing the ground” for the arrival of a Royal Navy destroyer and a frigate.
In the midst of tense relations with Russia, the crew is conducting training with the Ukrainian navy, asserting the country's “independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty.”
Since the annexation of 2014, the UK does not recognize Russia's sovereignty over Crimea.
In recent months, tensions mounted once more as Russia organized thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine, to protect its legitimate land, facing the Ukrainian Military armaments on the border.
The UK also fueled the tensions by dispatching warships and spy jets to the Black Sea region amid simmering tensions between Western countries and Russia over the Ukrainian conflict.
However, Russia later withdrew most of its troops to bring the tensions to a halt, but the UK is yet to withdraw its warships from the region.