Thursday, June 24, 2021

Russia Threatens To Bomb British Warships If Too Close To Crimea

Russia will directly bomb HMS Defender if it sails too close to Crimea again, its deputy foreign minister warns as MP Tobias Ellwood says tensions could spiral into an actual engagement after Black Sea stand-off

A top Russian official has warned British warships could be bombed the next time they sail too close to Crimea after warning shots were fired at HMS Defender on Wednesday.

The British Type 45 destroyer sailed within the 12-mile limit of Crimea near Cape Fiolent in the Black Sea which Russia claims as its own territory but the West sees as international waters.

After the flashpoint, which saw 20 Su-24s buzzing over the Royal Navy vessel, Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov warned: 'What can we do? We can appeal to common sense, demand respect for international law.

"If this does not help, we can bomb not only in the direction but also on target, if our colleagues do not understand.

'I warn everyone violating the state borders of the Russian Federation under the slogan of free navigation, from such provocative steps, because the security of our country comes first.'

Backing up his comments, the Kremlin said Moscow that would respond harshly to any similar actions in the future and warned against any further 'provocations'. 

Despite their warnings, British minister George Eustice said 'of course' Royal Navy ships will continue to sail through the disputed waters around Crimea, saying: 'We never accepted the annexation of Crimea, these were Ukrainian territorial waters.'

Meanwhile Britain's Chair of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, admitted there is a prospect of an engagement flaring up with Britain's 'dangerous game' of sailing in disputed waters.

The former Defence Secretary told BBC 4: 'There's huge scope for an accident to occur, misinterpretation, leading to an actual kinetic engagement and it could be a bit of time before somebody grabs that red phone and calms things down.' 

Amid the escalating tensions, Boris Johnson boarded a helicopter to visit soldiers in the new Ranger Regiment to mark Britain's Armed Forces Week in a show of military strength.

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