Russia says hostile actions by a British warship near Russian territorial waters could not have been carried out without the urging of the US.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the White House and the Pentagon had referred reporters to London to ask London about the warship incident in the Black Sea.
"Why so? The ship was still in the northwest part of the Black Sea waters in preparations for the Sea Breeze drills held under the US command. American experts note that special ops unit of the US, the UK and Ukraine were engaged in trainings aboard the ship at the time of the incident. In these conditions, it is impossible that the ‘peaceful passage’ of the British destroyer was not agreed with the ‘big brother’," she wrote on her Telegram channel.
Russia’s Defense Ministry declared on Wednesday that the Russian Black Sea Fleet together with the Federal Security Service Border Control prevented the UK’s HMS Defender destroyer from violating Russian borders near Cape Fiolent in Crimea.
The destroyer, the ministry said, had traveled three kilometers deep into Russian territorial waters when it was warned about the possible use of force.
The British warship initially ignored the warning, prompting a Russian border guard ship to fire warning shots while an SU-24M bomber dropped warning bombs ahead of the destroyer, finally forcing it to turn back and leave Russian waters.
The ministry slammed the actions of the British warship as a crude violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and called on London to investigate the actions of the destroyer’s crew members.
UK vows to return into ‘Crimean waters’
A British government minister said Thursday that the UK was prepared to sail naval vessels through what he described as “disputed waters near Crimea” again.
The UK’s Environment Secretary George Eustice disputed Moscow’s statement that Russian warplanes had dropped bombs and a patrol boat had fired warning shots at the British destroyer.
"This is a very normal thing," Eustice told Sky News. "It's quite common, actually, what was actually going on is the Russians were doing a gunnery exercise and given prior notice of that, they often do in that area. So I think it's important that we don't get carried away."
Pressed on the reported bombing of warning shot by Russian aircraft, the British minister added, "I'm told that's not what happened."
"I don't think they were warning shots. There was a military exercise that was taking place, and it's not uncommon for the Russians to do this in this area, and therefore the incident is not particularly abnormal in that sense," he claimed.
Zakharova on Wednesday said the UK was spreading lies about the incident.
She compared the official statements of the British side and reports that a BBC journalist who was aboard the destroyer had confirmed that the ship deliberately entered the Russian territorial waters.
"So, who's lying: the British Defense Ministry, the British BBC reporter or the British Embassy in Moscow? There is an answer. This time - the British Defense Ministry and the British Embassy," Zakharova wrote on Telegram
"London has lost its manners. I advise the British partners to knock if they want to 'peacefully enter' next time," she added.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Russia had the right to "bomb on target" when foreign ships violate its sea borders.
"What can we do? We can appeal to common sense, demand respect for international law. If this does not help, we can bomb not only in the direction, but also on target, if our colleagues do not understand," Ryabkov said.