BREAKING – Russian Defense Ministry officials claimed that a Russian warship fired warning shots and a Russian warplane dropped bombs near the British destroyer, HMS Defender as it transited from Odessa towards Georgia across the Black Sea. According to the Russians, it had crossed into Russian territorial waters and a border patrol ship fired warning shots, and a Su-24M bomber carried out a warning bombing.
The U.K.’s Ministry of Defense denied the alleged incident, and this appears to be part of a broader Russian information warfare operation.
Earlier, On June 19, USNI News reported that HMS Defender’s automatic identification system (AIS) signal appeared to have been faked (spoofed) to place the British warship near the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Russian-controlled Crimea, while live feed footage showed the British warship docked in the Ukrainian port of Odessa.
Days later, Russia’s state-run Tass News agency reported the Russian military stating that: “At 11:52 on June 23 this year the destroyer URO Defender of the British Navy, operating in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, crossed the state border of the Russian Federation and entered the territorial sea in the area of Cape Fiolent for 3 km.”
Additionally, Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news service reported that the Su-24M Russian bomber waited several minutes after the Russian warship fired its warning shots before it dropped a total of four OFAB-250 bombs near the British warship.
The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence Press Office denied the claims in a tweet, and explained:
No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law. 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.
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.
— Ministry of Defence Press Office (@DefenceHQPress) June 23, 2021
The HMS Defender (D36) is Daring-class air-defense destroyer commissioned with the Royal Navy in 2013. ADN