Cape Breton Post

Russia warns Britain it will bomb ships


LONDON/MOSCOW — Russia warned Britain on Thursday that it would bomb British naval vessels in the Black Sea if there were any further provocativ­e actions by the British navy off the coast of Russia-annexed Crimea.

Russia summoned the British ambassador in Moscow for a formal diplomatic scolding after the warship breached what the Kremlin says are its territoria­l waters but which Britain and most of the world say belong to Ukraine.

Britain said Russia was giving an inaccurate account of the incident. No warning shots had been fired and no bombs had been dropped in the path of the Royal Navy destroyer Defender, it said.

In Moscow, Russia summoned Ambassador Deborah Bronnert for a reprimand over what it said were Britain’s

“dangerous” action in the Black Sea — while foreign ministry spokeswoma­n Maria Zakharova accused London of “barefaced lies.”

“We can appeal to common sense, demand respect for internatio­nal law, and if that doesn’t work, we can bomb,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agencies.

Ryabkov, referring to

Moscow’s version of events in which a Russian aircraft bombed the path of the British destroyer, said that in future bombs would be sent “not only in its path, but also on target.”

The Black Sea, which Russia uses to project its power in the Mediterran­ean, has for centuries been a flashpoint between Russia and its competitor­s such as Turkey,

France, Britain and the United States.

Russia seized and annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and considers areas around its coast to be Russian waters. Western countries deem the Crimea to be part of Ukraine and reject Russia’s claim to the seas around it.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British warship, which was travelling from the Ukrainian port of Odessa to the Georgian port of Batumi, was acting in accordance with the law and had been in internatio­nal waters.

“These are Ukrainian waters and it was entirely right to use them to go from A to B,” Johnson said. British Defence Minister Ben Wallace accused Russian pilots of conducting unsafe aircraft manoeuvres 152 metres above the warship.

“The Royal Navy will always uphold internatio­nal law and will not accept unlawful interferen­ce with innocent passage,” Wallace said.

 ?? REUTERS ?? British Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender arrives at the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine on June 18.
REUTERS British Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender arrives at the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine on June 18.

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