Russia threatens to bomb Royal Navy warships in the Black Sea in a step up of hostilities
RUSSIA stepped up its threat of violence towards the Royal Navy as it warned it could bomb British warships operating in the Black Sea.
The latest hostilities came after Russia accused Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender of ‘illegally’ breaching what the the Kremlin says are its territorial waters near Crimea, the RIA news agency said.
Russia summoned the British ambassador in Moscow for a formal diplomatic rebuke after Portsmouth-based Defender sailed through the waters last month, Sky News has reported.
Britain and most of the world say the waters around Crimea belong to the Ukraine and that Russia illegally annexed a huge swathe of the peninsula in 2014.
Footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry showed a border patrol boat firing shots as it chased down the £1bn Royal Navy warship.
The shots were nowhere near Defender, the Ministry of Defence insisted, adding the ship safely transited through an internationally recognised shipping lane unscathed.
As previously reported, Russian president Vladimir Putin accused the UK and USA of ‘provocation’ following the incident.
But now in a step up of its threatening behaviour, Russia claimed it could bomb British naval vessels if there are more such actions by the Royal Navy off Crimea.
It comes as Russian warplanes practised bombing enemy ships in the Black Sea during training exercises on Saturday.
Russia was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying: ‘Aircraft crews ... conducted training flights over the Black Sea, practicing missile and bombing strikes against simulated enemy ships.’
The drills involved a range of fighter craft, including Sukhoi Su-30SM multi-purpose fighters, Sukhoi Su-24M bombers, Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers and Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets, RIA said.
Nato is currently carrying out a large-scale military drill of its own in the Black Sea.
Known as Exercise Sea Breeze, the two-week war game involves about 5,000 military personnel from the alliance and around 30 ships and 40 aircraft.
Among the vessels taking part include Portsmouth-based patrol ship HMS Trent, which was last week spotted entering the Black Sea for its second mission in the region.
Moscow has previously called for the annual Nato exercise to be cancelled.
The Russian defence ministry insisted it will scramble ships to safeguard its security if necessary.