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Britain denies Russian claims of warning shots in Black Sea

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Britain on Wednesday rejected the Russian claims that warning shots were fired at one of its vessels in the Black Sea.

NEWS IN ENGLISH 23.06.2021, 21:30 Pelin Su Tamer
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Britain denies Russian claims of warning shots in Black Sea
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"No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender," the British Defense Ministry said in a statement.

"The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law," the ministry wrote on Twitter.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said Russia stopped a British Royal Navy destroyer that it said was violating its waters.

According to the ministry, the Defender entered Russian territorial waters near Cape Fiolent in the Black Sea and did not respond to warnings of the Russian coastal forces.

"At 11:52 on June 23, the destroyer Defender of the British Navy, operating in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, crossed the state border of the Russian Federation and entered the territorial sea near Cape Fiolent for 3 km (1.86 miles)," the Russian statement said.

It added that a Russian coast guard ship then fired warning shots at the Defender and a Su-24 fighter jet carried out a warning bombing after which the destroyer turned back.

"At 12:06 and 12:08, a border patrol ship fired a warning shot. At 12:19, the Su-24M aircraft performed a warning bombing along the course of the Defender destroyer. Thanks to the joint actions of the Black Sea Fleet and the Border Service of the FSB [Federal Security Service] of Russia, the Defender destroyer left the borders of the territorial sea of the Russian Federation," read the statement.

However, British Defense Ministry said they "believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity."

"No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path," it added.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement that the ship "carried out a routine transit from Odessa towards Georgia across the Black Sea."

"As is normal for this route, she entered an internationally recognised traffic separation corridor. She exited that corridor safely at 0945 BST. As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity," he said.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the British ambassador will be summoned over the incident.

Russia describes the incident as "a rude provocation," she said.


Strained relations

The Britain-Russia relations have been strained since a controversial referendum in 2014 in Crimea, which drew the ire of the international community as Russian soldiers occupied the region during the voting process.

The vote led to the annexation of Crimea, a move not recognized by Turkey, the UK, or the UN.

Relations were further soured by the March 2018 poisoning and near death of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, who live in England, an attack Britain blames on Russian agents.

The Skripals were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious in Salisbury but they were both discharged from the hospital after long treatments.

Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a 2010 spy exchange between the US and Russia. Before the exchange, he had been serving a 13-year prison term for leaking information to the British intelligence.

Following the poisoning, a worldwide expulsion saw more than 150 Russian diplomats sent home from Western states.

NATO and the EU have supported the UK and condemned the attack.

*Elena Teslova from Moscow contributed to this story

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