Russia says British warship in ‘clear violation of agreements’ and calls it HMS Provocateur

·2 min read
Russia has claimed Royal Navy warship HMS Defender was in “clear violation” of a 1986 agreement by straying into territorial waters (Sergey Smolentsev/Reuters)
Russia has claimed Royal Navy warship HMS Defender was in “clear violation” of a 1986 agreement by straying into territorial waters (Sergey Smolentsev/Reuters)

Russia has claimed a Royal Navy warship was in “clear violation” of a 1986 agreement by straying into territorial waters as it branded the vessel “HMS Provocateur”.

The Russian ambassador to the UK said HMS Defender travelled three kilometres into Russian territorial waters on Wednesday, thereby breaking a 35-year agreement on the prevention of incidents at sea.

The country’s defence ministry claimed its forces fired warning shots at the Type 45 destroyer after it strayed into its territorial waters in the Black Sea.

However, Britain has accused Russia of “disinformation”, insisting no such incident took place.

Speaking as news of the alleged incident broke, Andrei Kelin told Channel 4 News: “I think it is a clear violation of the agreement that has been reached much earlier in 1986 on prevention of incidents at sea.”

He added: “This agreement says that while coming closer to each other, ships should warn and should respond to any demands of their intention.

“And what is more, is that a couple of months ago, between two general staffs - Russian and UK general staffs - a protocol has been signed which is stipulating arrangements, specifically adapted to the current situation. So, it’s regrettable.”

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Mr Kelin claimed HMS Defender was “stopped by means that were available” as the vessel failed to respond to “several warnings” issued “at least every 10 minutes” as it travelled “deep into the waters”.

Asked whether shots were fired by the Russians, the ambassador responded: “I understand these were not real. It was just prevention since this ship was not responding to any demands.”

The official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in London later appeared to troll the UK, writing: “HMS Defender turns HMS Provocateur and violates Russian border. Not exactly a ‘routine’ transit, is it?”

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) denied shots were fired towards the British ship.

It said in a statement: “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.”

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