The Jerusalem Post

Putin: UK warship wanted to test Russia


MOSCOW (Reuters) – A British warship that Russia says illegally entered its territoria­l waters near Crimea earlier this month did so to observe in detail how Russian forces would react, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

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

London has said the destroyer followed an internatio­nally recognized corridor on its way from Ukraine to Georgia and denied that a stand-off with Russian forces took place – even as Moscow said it would bomb trespassin­g vessels next time.

Russia annexed Crimea – which hosts its Black Sea navy base – from Ukraine in 2014, prompting sanctions from the West.

“This was a provocatio­n, of course,” Putin said on state television.

“It was obvious that the destroyer entered (the waters near Crimea) pursuing, first of all, military goals, trying to use a reconnaiss­ance aircraft to discover how our forces would stop such provocatio­ns, to see what happens on our side, how things work and where everything is located.”

Putin said Russia – whose forces fired warning shots at the British destroyer and dropped bombs in its path - responded in such a way that would only give the other side the informatio­n that Moscow wanted them to have.

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