Vladimir Putin says Russia can carry out 'unpreventable strikes' on Royal Navy warships
RUSSIA’S president Vladimir Putin issued a chilling warning to Britain’s military over the weekend, saying his navy can detect any enemy and launch an ‘unpreventable strike’ if needed.
Mr Putin’s comments come just weeks after Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Defender angered Moscow by passing the Crimea peninsula and have been branded ‘bellicose and dangerous’ by a former head of the Royal Navy.
The flash-point incident in the Black Sea saw Russian forces firing warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to chase it out of Crimea waters.
Britain rejected Russia's account of the incident, saying it believed any shots fired were a pre-announced Russian ‘gunnery exercise’, and that no bombs had been dropped.
Russia has staked an illegal claim of sovereignty over the waters, following its annexation of Crimea. However, Britain and Nato insist the waters belong to ally Ukraine.
Speaking during a navy day parade in St Petersburg, Mr Putin said: ‘We are capable of detecting any underwater, above-water, airborne enemy and, if required, carry out an unpreventable strike against it.’
The president added that Russia could have sunk Defender for what it accused of illegally entering their territory without starting World War Three and said the United States played a role in the ‘provocation’.
But the comments by Putin have been brushed off by one former head of the Royal Navy, who today branded them ‘nonsense’.
Admiral Lord Alan West, a former security minister, told The News: ‘He is speaking for his own internal audience, trying to show off how strong he is and how powerful his military is.
‘This is just the normal rhetoric and nonsense he spouts all the time. It doesn’t help the world order of things at all.
‘He is saying how good his forces are – I think most leaders would say similar things about their own forces to their people.
‘But I think the way he puts it across is rather bellicose and dangerous.’
HMS Defender is currently part of the carrier strike group supporting HMS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden deployment.
The £1bn warship is conducting operations in the Indo-Pacific region.