The Russian Defense Ministry announced that one of its nation’s border guard ships fired warning shots at, while a Su-24M bomber performed preventive bombing near, a British warship, the destroyer HMS Defender, in the Black Sea today.
The Defense Ministry issued this statement: “At 11:52 on June 23 this year, the UK Navy’s guided missile destroyer Defender operating in the northwestern part of the Black Sea crossed the state border of the Russian Federation and moved 3 km into the territorial sea near Cape Fiolent [in Crimea].”
The statmeent also confirmed that the Russian Black Sea Fleet (based in Sevastopol in Crimea) and the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service “halted the violation of the Russian state border by the UK Navy’s guided missile destroyer Defender.”
The British ship was warned that Russian forces would employ weapons next if it violated the state border, but failed to respond to the warning. “The UK warship received a warning that weapons would be employed, if it violated the Russian state border, but did not respond to it,” according to the ministry.
The statement also said: “At 12:06 and 12:08, the border guard patrol ship conducted warning fire. At 12:19, a Su-24M plane carried out preventing bombing (four OFAB-250 bombs) along the route of the guided missile destroyer Defender.”
The Defender left Russian maritime territory at 12:23.
Shortly afterward the Defense Minister summoned the defense attaché at the British embassy in Moscow over the incident.
Defender entered the Black Sea last week with the Royal Netherlands Navy’s frigate HNLMS Evertsen, both ships assigned to the new British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth‘s carrier strike group. Shortly afterward they conducted a joint exercise with the USS Laboon guided-missile/interceptor-missile destroyer in the sea. Laboon is the fifth U.S. ship to be sent to the Black Sea so far this year; the fourth guided-missile warship (three destroyers and a cruiser), all four Aegis Combat System vessels equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptor missiles. They are each also capable of firing 55 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Today’s incident occurred five days before the commencement of the annual Sea Breeze military exercise in the Black Sea hosted by the U.S. and Ukraine. This year’s iteration of the 24-year-old war games will included troops, ships and planes from an unprecedented 32 nations from all six inhabited continents.
The Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. has reacted to the above by warning, “the scale and aggressive nature of the ‘Sea Breeze’ exercises in no way helps with the real challenges of ensuring security in the Black Sea region.” The embassy’s statement also said the war games will “increase the risk of unintentional incidents” and at the same time “encourage militaristic sentiments in Kiev.” They are designed to do both those things.
Reports of the statement add that Russia is requesting the U.S. and its NATO allies and partners cancel the exercise.
RT reports that last November the U.S. fired missiles capable of striking Crimea in the Black Sea as part of US-led military drills. Missile launch tests conducted from Romania were designed to demonstrate the new High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) for the first time in the area, causing concern among Crimean officials.
The next provocation in the Black Sea may produce results the world doesn’t expect and will not be pleased to witness.
Rick Rozoff is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.