In the strongest words issued yet to last month’s provocative maneuver by the Royal Navy in the Black Sea, the Russian government has pledged to undertake “tough action” in the event of further provocations.
The Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, is quoting a Kremlin spokesman as saying that any future British provocations may be met with a military response, possibly involving the bombing of Royal Navy warships.
Late last month a Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Defender, violated Russian territorial waters off the Crimean coast as a show of solidarity with Nato ally Ukraine. HMS Defender's potentially dangerous maneuver prompted Russian forces to fire "warning shots" in order to eject the vessel from Russian territorial waters.
The latest warning to the UK by the Russian government comes against the backdrop of intensive Russian military drills in the Black Sea.
As part of the drills, Russian warplanes practiced bombing enemy ships in the Black Sea on Saturday (July 04).
RIA Novosti quoted military sources as saying: "Aircraft crews conducted training flights over the Black Sea, practicing missile and bombing strikes against simulated enemy ships".
The drills reportedly involved warplanes including Sukhoi Su-30 multi-purpose fighters, Sukhoi Su-24 bombers, Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers and Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets.
Meanwhile, Nato and its ally Ukraine, are also conducting large-scale naval exercises – and parallel air defense drills – as part of Sea Breeze 2021.
Sea Breeze 2021 – which is an annual naval exercise in the Black Sea – is set to last two weeks and involves 5,000 Nato and allied military personnel, in addition to 30 warships and 40 warplanes.