Russia may bomb British warships if they trespass again in the Black Sea, Konstantin Gavrilov, the Russian envoy to the Vienna talks on military security and arms control, said on Thursday.
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UK defense minister Ben Wallace reiterated on Thursday that HMS Defender conducted “innocent passage” through Ukrainian waters near Crimea on Wednesday when Russia scrambled gunboats and a bomber to chase it off.
Gavrilov said during an OSCE security forum that he was outraged by the UK military’s claims and warned it that “next time bombs — if we do choose to go that way — will be dropped on target and not in a ship’s path.”
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Russia says the British warship sailed as far as 3 kilometers into Russian waters near the southernmost tip of Sevastopol, a Russian naval base, prompting gunboats to fire warning shots. The UK Ministry of Defense insists Russian fire was part of an exercise.
Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said besides warning shots a Su-24 jet dropped bombs after the UK Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Defender trespassed into its territorial waters.
Moscow said that a Russian Su-24 bomber dropped four bombs in the path of the British vessel forcing it to change its course. Subsequently, the British warship retreated, the ministry said.
These claims were, however, denied by Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD). It also added that the ship was sailing in Ukrainian waters. Ben Wallace, British Defense Secretary, said in a statement that HMS Defender was conducting a “routine transit” from Odesa towards Georgia across the Black Sea and had entered the internationally recognized traffic corridor.
With Inputs From Sputnik