Russia issues chilling warning to Royal Navy saying 'sailors will get hurt' if British warships sail near Crimea
A HIGH-ranking Russian security official has told Britain not to sail its warships near disputed Crimea and chillingly warned Royal Navy sailors ‘will get hurt’ if it does.
Mikhail Popov, deputy secretary of the Kremlin's Security Council, hit out weeks after the Russian coastguard fired warning shots near HMS Defender claiming it had entered "Russian" waters.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has declared the waters around it belong to Moscow – despite most countries continuing to recognise the peninsula as Ukrainian.
British officials have insisted that the Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer was operating in Ukrainian waters
But in an interview with the state Rossiiyskaya Gazeta newspaper Mr Popov, said Britain's behaviour during the recent Black Sea stand-off and its subsequent reaction to the incident was bewildering.
In particular, he criticised suggestions from PM Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, the foreign minister, the worrying incident could be repeated in the future.
‘Similar actions will be thwarted with the harshest methods in future by Russia regardless of the violator's state allegiance,’ said Popov
‘We suggest our opponents think hard about whether it's worth organising such provocations given the capabilities of Russia's armed forces.’
He then issued a chilling warning to those serving on board Royal Navy ships.
‘It's not the members of the British government who will be in the ships and vessels used for provocational ends,’ he added.
‘And it's in that context that I want to ask a question of the same Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab - what will they say to the families of the British sailors who will get hurt in the name of such 'great' ideas?’
Last month Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, warned UK warships could be bombed the next time they sail too close to Crimea in the wake of the standoff with HMS Defender.
The £1bn destroyer sailed with the 12-mile limit of Crimea, enraging Russian forces in the region.
The clash saw some 20 Su-24s fighter jets buzzing over the the 8,500-tonne warship.
Two Russian coastguard boats were also reported getting close to Defender, with Russian crew from the tiny vessels warning: ‘if you don't change course I'll fire’ over the radio.
One Russian vessel opened fire twice before the planes were ordered in.
The Ministry of Defence said the shots were not directed at the ship and that Defender made it’s way safely through the contested waterway unscathed.
Defender has since resumed its mission to protect the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth as the aircraft carrier continues with her deployment to the Far East and back.