The spat started Wednesday morning when Russian defense officials claimed that a border patrol boat fired shots at the HMS Defender after it entered territorial waters in the Black Sea.Additionally, a Su-24M warplane allegedly dropped four bombs close to the ship, Sky News reported. The exchange may have taken place near the coast of Crimea.
The British Military of Defense immediately pushed back on the claims, instead stating that no warning shots were fired, nor were any bombs dropped near the warship.
“The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international war,” the ministry tweeted. “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.”
Russian officials responded to the U.K.’s rebuke by summoning the Defense Attache.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace appeared before the Commons Defense Committee, reportedly confirming that crewmembers did hear “training noises” but nothing within “visual range.”
He also claimed that Russia has previously made false statements of driving out British ships in the Black Sea.
“These are the things that come and go with Russia. Disinformation, misinformation is something that we have seen regularly. We are not surprised by it,” Wallace said. “We plan for it and we take all steps to make sure we are not escalatory or provocative.
“As is normal for this route, she entered an internationally recognised traffic separation corridor,” Wallace said in a public statement. “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.”
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, a move that wasn’t recognized by most countries in the world. Russia has frequently chafed at NATO warships visits to the Black Sea, casting them as destabilizing, even though NATO members Turkey, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria all are on the Black Sea.
This is a developing story.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.