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Bombs and warning shots fired at UK Destroyer ship in the Black Sea, Russia claims

Russia claimed that its naval force had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British Navy Destroyer in the Black Sea to force it out of the country’s territorial waters off the coast of Crimea Peninsula. 

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The United Kingdom denied the Russian claim, saying it believed any shots fired were a part of a pre-announced exercise and no bombs had been dropped in the path of the Royal Navy’s destroyer. 

Russian Claim:

According to Russian Defense Ministry, on Wednesday, the British HMS Destroyer entered the territorial waters of the Russian Federation in the Black Sea near Cape Fiolent. Russian news agency Interfax reported

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“The destroyer was preliminary warned about the use of weapons in case of violation of the state border of the Russian Federation. It did not react to the warning.” Russian military department said. 

The warning shots were fired at 12:06 and 12:08 by the border patrol ship. At 12:19 pm, the SU-24M bomber aircraft performed bombing in the path of the Britain HMS Destroyer. The dropped bombs were OFAB-250 high-explosive fragmentation bombs along the course of the Defender guided-missile destroyer (URO). The Russian military said. According to Interfax. 

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The OFAB-250 is a 250 kg caliber high-explosive fragmentation universal aerial bomb which is effective against military-industrial objects, aircraft in open parking areas, fuel lubricant depots, railways, transport vessels, and the enemy manpower. 

Russia annexed and seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and considers areas around the peninsula’s coast to be Russian territory. The Western countries rejected the Russian claim and still considered Crimea as a part of Ukraine. 

British statement:

The United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry said, “No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship was conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.” 

“Innocent Passage” is an internationally recognized right for ships to sail through territorial waters of a country subject to certain restrictions and it will take place with other rules of international law. 

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“It is incorrect to say either that it was fired upon or the ship was in Russian waters.” The spokesperson of Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. 

UK’s Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace said, “HMS Defender carried out a routine transit from Odessa towards Georgia across the Black Sea.” Al Jazeera reported. 

“As is normal for this route, HMS Defender entered an internationally recognized traffic separation corridor. She exited that corridor safely at 09:45 BST.” He added. “As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity.” 

“This was done to test the Russian resolve over Crimea. Russia is trying to create facts on the ground and get them respected internationally so that their annexation is in effect rubber-stamped by the world.” A maritime security specialist and a retired Colonel with British Royal Marines, Mark Gray, told Reuters. 

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Kuleba said in a Twitter statement, “A clear proof of Ukraine’s position, Russia’s aggressive and provocative actions in the Black and Azov seas, its occupation and militarisation of Crimea pose a lasting threat to Ukraine and allies.” 

“We need a new quality of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO allies in the Black Sea.” He added. 

What Happened Next:

“From our side, these ships will definitely not be welcome. Nobody is going to welcome them with honor, but they will definitely track their actions – by direct tracking, technically, from the air and space.” Admiral Vladimir Komoedov, the former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, told Interfax. 

Admiral further added, “The Black Sea Fleet will have to increase combat readiness, especially air defense systems, separate duty forces, and organize steady tracking of these ships.” 

According to Reuters, Russia’s foreign ministry called the passage of the UK’s HMS Destroyer warship through the Black Sea an act of “blatant provocation” and summoned the British ambassador over the incident. 

“I hope that they will learn from this. In this case, we demonstrated with our military and political actions that we will ensure our interests 100%, there can be no doubt about that.” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Grushko said. According to Tass News Agency

“In the military sphere, all decisions should be weighed. I am sure that yesterday’s incident will be the subject of professional inquiries.” He added. 

“If we talk about our general approach to such incidents, our position is well known. We offer all NATO states to join the talks on improving the existing agreements on avoiding or preventing dangerous incidents, including those of an accidental nature, at sea, in the air, or in contact zones in general.” Alexander Grushko said. 

Analysis:

Russia acts more aggressively over the incident. Britain must have to look at the matter more technically and precisely because such incidents cause the start of large size conflicts and the loss of lives. 

Britain was also unable to show a consolidated response over the matter. On one hand, the UK’s Defense Ministry rejected the claim of Russia over warning shots and said that the warship was just passing by the International waters. While on the other side, Mark Gray, Royal Navy’s retired Colonel told Reuters that this was done to test the Russian resolve and capability over Crimea. In this statement, British official is accepting the responsibility of the violation of Russian waters.

Sources:

  1. Interfax
  2. Reuters
  3. Al Jazeera
  4. Tass
  5. The News