Ministry of Defence says Royal Navy Portsmouth-based warship HMS Destroyer 'not targeted' by Russian warning shots
THE Ministry of Defence has refuted Russian claims Portsmouth-based HMS Defender was on the receiving end of warning shots.
Russian defence officials claim they fired warning shots at the Type 45 destroyer after she entered the country’s territorial waters in the Black Sea.
But now the MoD has refuted this – saying the Russians were conducting a ‘gunnery exercise’ and prewarned mariners of their activity.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace said HMS Defender was ‘shadowed’ by Russian vessels and ‘she was made aware of training exercises’ in the area.
HMS Defender carried out a ‘routine transit’ from Odessa towards Georgia across the Black Sea, he said.
#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.’
On Twitter the MoD said: ‘No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender.
‘The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.
‘We 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.’
HMS Defender – a Type 45 destroyer – is part of the UK Carrier Strike Group currently heading to the Indo-Pacific region.
However, it was announced earlier this month that it would be temporarily breaking away from the group to carry out its “own set of missions” in the Black Sea.
The reported incident took place off the coast of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.
Tensions in the region have been running high for some months.
In April the United States scrapped plans to deploy two of its destroyers to the Black Sea amid concerns over a build-up of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border.