LONDON — A military ship and fighter jet fired warning shots at a British Royal Navy destroyer after it entered Russian waters in the Black Sea, Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
The HMS Defender was “warned in advance that weapons would be used” if it crossed Russia’s border, the statement said. “It disregarded the warning,” it added.
A border patrol ship “fired warning shots,” shortly after midday local time (7 a.m. ET), the statement said, adding that an Su-24M fighter jet “performed a warning bombing,” on the British ship’s course, dropping four high explosive fragmentation bombs.
The incident took place in the northwestern Black Sea.
Calling the incident “a gross provocation,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a separate statement that it would summon Deborah Bronnert, Britain’s ambassador to Russia, for a meeting.
However, Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense minister, said in a statement that the HMS Defender was carrying out a “routine transit” from the Ukrainian city of Odessa toward Georgia through an “internationally recognized traffic separation corridor.”
Making no mention of warning shots, he said that the ship had “exited that corridor safely.”
“As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity,” he said.
In a separate statement, Britain’s defense ministry said it believed the “Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity.”
It added: “No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path.”