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Russia vows ‘tough response’ to provocations ‘like UK warship’ episode in Black Sea last month

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Russia has once again emphasized the necessity for a “tough response” to provocative moves like a British warship's last month violation of Russian territorial waters off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea.

Back on June 3, the British destroyer HMS Defender ventured three kilometers into the Russian territory, off Crimea's Cape Fiolent in the Black Sea.

The move prompted a Russian border guard patrol ship to fire warning shots and a Sukhoi-24M bomber to drop bombs ahead of the destroyer.

Following the warning maneuvers, the HMS Defender left the waters, but the Russian defense ministry denounced the provocative action as a gross violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, urging London to investigate the crew's actions.

Moscow firmly warned London not to make any further provocative actions in the region, and summoned the British ambassador in Moscow to deliver a “tough demarche”.

However, the British side denied warning shots had been fired and that any bombs had been dropped in the path of the HMS Defender.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow could have sunk the British warship over illegally entering Russia’s territorial waters without starting World War Three, accusing the US of a role in the “provocation".

On Sunday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking on state television on Sunday, said the incident was “a well-planned provocation” and that Putin’s reaction had made it clear that any such provocation would trigger a firm response.

“It is obvious that the reaction will of course be tough,” Peskov said, echoing Putin’s comments that Washington and London said had planned the episode together.

“I think that our intelligence agencies of course know who took that decision. But, of course, I think the essence of such operations is planned by all the same senior comrades - those over the ocean,” Peskov added.

Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17, 2014, and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum, in which 96.8 percent of participants voted in favor of the move, which plunged relations between Moscow and the West into a free fall.

The US, the European Union, and Ukraine claim that Russia has annexed the region. Moscow strongly rejects the allegation.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Peskov said that NATO was a destabilizing element that led to confrontation, but that Moscow remained open to dialog with the US-led military alliance.

His comments come as tensions are running high as Ukraine and NATO member states hold military drills in the Black Sea, monitored by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

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