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.

Boris Johnson boarded a helicopter in London this morning to visit soldiers as part of Armed Forces Week amid the escalating row with Russia

Boris Johnson boarded a helicopter in London this morning to visit soldiers as part of Armed Forces Week amid the escalating row with Russia

Russia released footage filmed from one of its Su-24M attack jets which showed HMS Defender sailing off Crimea - but not the moment it alleges shots were fired and four bombs were dropped

Russia released footage filmed from one of its Su-24M attack jets which showed HMS Defender sailing off Crimea - but not the moment it alleges shots were fired and four bombs were dropped 

Images released by the Russian defence ministry shows the SU-24s buzzing above the destroyer and lining the vessel up in its crosshairs

Images released by the Russian defence ministry shows the SU-24s buzzing above the destroyer and lining the vessel up in its crosshairs

Pictured: HMS Defender conducts close proximity sailing whilst on maritime operations in the Black Sea on June 17

Pictured: HMS Defender conducts close proximity sailing whilst on maritime operations in the Black Sea on June 17

Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov (pictured) has vowed to bomb a British warship the next time it sails too close to Crimea after warning shots were fired at HMS Defender on Wednesday

Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov (pictured) has vowed to bomb a British warship the next time it sails too close to Crimea after warning shots were fired at HMS Defender on Wednesday

Britain's prime minister met with soldiers of the new Ranger Regiment during a visit to mark Armed Forces Week, at the Aldershot Garrison in Aldershot, amid the diplomatic row

Britain's prime minister met with soldiers of the new Ranger Regiment during a visit to mark Armed Forces Week, at the Aldershot Garrison in Aldershot, amid the diplomatic row

Johnson poses in an armoured vehicle of the new Ranger Regiment as members of his government criticise Russia's 'misinformation' over Wednesday's incident

Johnson poses in an armoured vehicle of the new Ranger Regiment as members of his government criticise Russia's 'misinformation' over Wednesday's incident

'They're the bear': PM responds to Russia's 'barefaced lies' comment
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Russia claimed to have shot at HMS Defender, and to have dropped four bombs from an Su-24M warplane in waters ahead of the Royal Navy vessel.

Britain has denied the Russian version, and insists HMS Defender was either in Ukrainian or international waters at all times.

Many Western countries do not accept Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea by military force as being legitimate in law. 

Britain's ambassador Deborah Bronnert will be summoned to the Russian foreign ministry on Thursday to give account for HMS Defender's actions. 

Ryabkov said today: 'We are outraged by their [the UK's] behaviour, and we would like to note that balancing on the brink of confrontation is fraught with very serious consequences for those who plan such events and then try to carry them out.'

Black Sea menace: One of two Russian patrol vessels with 30mm gun, circled, that fired heavy bursts towards the Royal Navy destroyer it was shadowing

Black Sea menace: One of two Russian patrol vessels with 30mm gun, circled, that fired heavy bursts towards the Royal Navy destroyer it was shadowing

Lord Alan West accused Vladimir Putin of 'playing to the home audience' after Moscow's bold claims of its use of force against HMS Defender
Britain's Chair of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, admitted it is a 'dangerous game' to provoke Russia and other powers by sailing in disputed waters

Britain's Chair of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood (right), admitted it is a 'dangerous game' to provoke Russia and other powers by sailing in disputed waters, while Lord Alan West (left) accused Vladimir Putin of 'playing to the home audience'

Vigilance: Crew member scans sea for Russian activity on board the vessel on Tuesday when the incident occured

Vigilance: Crew member scans sea for Russian activity on board the vessel on Tuesday when the incident occured

A picture taken on Friday shows a ship from the Russian Black Sea Fleet (circled) shadowing USS Laboon , HMS Defender and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen

A picture taken on Friday shows a ship from the Russian Black Sea Fleet (circled) shadowing USS Laboon , HMS Defender and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen


The diplomat said: 'This is a very serious situation, we condemn the actions of the British side.'

He said: 'The territorial integrity of the Russian Federation is inviolable.

'The inviolability of its borders is an absolute imperative, and we will protect all this both through political-diplomatic and, when necessary, military methods.'  

Meanwhile a former Royal Navy chief accused Vladimir Putin of 'playing to the home audience' after Moscow's bold claims of its use of force against HMS Defender. 

Lord Alan West, former Chief of Defence Intelligence, Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Security and Counter-Terrorism, said the Russian president's behaviour was 'appalling'.

Bear in the air: Co-pilot looks out as his Su-30 jet roars over the British warship during the close call that emerged on Tuesday

Bear in the air: Co-pilot looks out as his Su-30 jet roars over the British warship during the close call that emerged on Tuesday

'The bottom line is Putin is an expert at disinformation and his actions are very reckless, and we've seen that now for three or four years,' he told LBC.

'His behaviour is appalling.

'There's no doubt the (HMS) Defender was asserting her right of innocent passage from one port to another.

'Putin wants to play to his home audience, he wants to tell them 'aren't I tough, look at that, I've made Britain go away', and that's why I think they lied about firing warning shots at the defender - which they didn't do.

'As per usual, I'm afraid, Putin's organisation is lying about that.'

Lord West added that the behaviour was 'dangerous and stupid'.

'I would say it's the behaviour of a rogue state, but Russia shouldn't be a rogue state,' he said.

Battle stations: Officers and crew in white anti-flash balaclavas and mittens feel the pressure yesterday as they dictate naval operations from Defender’s bridge

Battle stations: Officers and crew in white anti-flash balaclavas and mittens feel the pressure yesterday as they dictate naval operations from Defender's bridge


Some footage was allegedly shot from the Su-24M which is said to have dropped four bombs to deter the Royal Navy vessel. Above: Su-24Ms seen in the Russian video

Some footage was allegedly shot from the Su-24M which is said to have dropped four bombs to deter the Royal Navy vessel. Above: Su-24Ms seen in the Russian video

Meanwhile cabinet minister George Eustice told Sky News: 'Under international law you can take the closest, fastest route from one point to another. HMS Defender was passing through Ukrainian waters, I think on the way to Georgia, and that was the logical route for it to take.

'This is a very normal thing, it's quite common actually. What was actually going on is the Russians were doing a gunnery exercise, they had given prior notice of that, they often do in that area.

'So, I think it's important people don't get carried away.'

Asked if the Government would do it again, he said 'of course, yes', adding: 'We never accepted the annexation of Crimea, these were Ukrainian territorial waters.'

He said while the gunner exercise was the 'official reason' given for the Russian activities, 'whether that was cover for them to try and make some point, we don't know'.

'Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn't,' he told ITV's Good Morning Britain.


Moscow boasted that an Su-24 dropped four bombs in the vessel's path after it refused to back down and warning shots were fired from their patrol ship, but Britain said the destroyer stayed in international waters and no shots were fired.

Two Black Sea Fleet coastguard ships continued to shadow HMS Defender from 100 yards away while 20 military aircraft patrolled it from the skies as it charted its course from Odessa in Ukraine to Georgia past Crimea, which Russia has annexed but the West refuses to recognise.

Former head of the Army General Lord Dannatt said Mr Putin is 'testing the will of the West'.

He told Sky News: 'I'm a little bit surprised that the Ministry of Defence is playing it down.

'It was unreasonable of the Russians to challenge HMS Defender in the way that they did.

'The underlying point is that there are international laws that must be upheld by everyone and HMS Defender had the absolute right to be where she was yesterday.'

It was the first time since the Cold War that Moscow acknowledged using live ammunition to deter a NATO warship, reflecting the growing risk of military incidents amid soaring tensions between Russia and the West, as Ukraine's foreign minister appealed for further NATO help. 

But Britain's Foreign Secretary said: 'No shots were fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship was conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters. We were doing so in accordance with international law and the Russian characterisation is predictably inaccurate.'

Meanwhile Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: 'These are things that come and go with Russia; disinformation, misinformation is something that we have seen regularly. We are not surprised by it, we plan for it.' 

Russia released footage filmed from one of its Su-24M attack jets which showed HMS Defender sailing off Crimea - but evidently not the moment it alleges shots were fired and four bombs were dropped. 

A map shows the route taken by HMS Defender during the alleged incident near the south coast of Crimea

A map shows the route taken by HMS Defender during the alleged incident near the south coast of Crimea

Captain Vincent Owen said his mission was confident but non-confrontational and insisted he was maintaining course on an internationally recognised shipping lane but Mr Beale said it was a 'deliberate move to make a point to Russia'.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also denounced what she called 'rude British provocation that defies international law'. 

The Russian ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, described the incident as 'regrettable' and claimed HMS Defender had been two miles inside Russian territorial waters.

He told Channel 4 News: 'He did not respond to several warnings, at least the warnings were issued every 10 minutes while he was going into water, deep into the waters. And then it was stopped by means that were available.'

To underline Moscow's point, the Russian Embassy chose a picture of the Crimea as its daily post of a 'Russian' landscape.

The Ministry of Defence and Number 10 insist the incident never happened, adding that Russia was carrying out pre-arranged exercises and Defender was conducting an 'innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters'.   

Releasing the footage of HMS Defender from the air, Russian defence ministry's TV channel Zvezda said: 'In the footage can be seen the culprit of the incident, the destroyer Defender.

'It is not known at what moment the footage was shot, either before or after the warning shots which forced the ship to change course and leave the territory of the Russian Federation.'

Some footage was allegedly shot from the Su-24M which is said to have dropped four bombs to deter the Royal Navy vessel.

Other footage may have been from a military drone.

A caption said the footage showed a joint operation by the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet 'uppressing violations of the Russian state border by the British destroyer HMS Defender'.

HMS Defender is armed with missiles, an air defence system, an armed Lynx Wildcat helicoper, Westland Merlin helictopers and various naval guns
Russia's Su-24 jets are equipped with 23mm cannon, laser-guided air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles and can also carry tactical nuclear bombs

HMS Defender is armed with missiles, an air defence system, an armed Lynx Wildcat helicoper, Westland Merlin helictopers and various naval guns. Russia's Su-24 jets are equipped with 23mm cannon, laser-guided air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles and can also carry tactical nuclear bombs

In an unusual move, Russia also released footage of Britain's defence attaché being summoned in Moscow. 

Such meetings are normally private but a video was released to state media fuelling the assumption that Moscow was using the alleged incident for propaganda.

'In the wake of a violation of the Russian Federation's border by a Royal Navy destroyer, the defence attaché at the UK embassy in Moscow has been summoned to the Russian Defence Ministry,' said a statement. 

The Russian defence ministry had claimed a patrol ship first opened fire at 12.06pm and shot again two minutes later at HMS Defender after it refused to listen to radio warnings about entering its territorial waters.

Around ten minutes later, the Su-24 dropped four OFAB-250s in the path of the British vessel, forcing it to retreat after venturing two miles inside their waters, Russia said.  

But the MoD issued a swift response to the claims, saying: '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.'

Tom Tugendhat, chair of the UK's Foreign Affairs Committee slammed the government of Russia's Vladimir Putin in a pair of tweets on Wednesday.

'Firing shots at ships in international waters is criminal. Putin's regime has: Used chemical weapons in the UK, Murdered opponents across Europe, Set explosions in Prague, Invaded and illegally occupied Ukraine and Georgia, Kept the Russian people hostage for a generation,' he wrote.

'Now it appears they lied about it,' Tugendhat said in a second tweet.

'For a mafia regime they really are pretty rubbish. But then they've so robbed the people and stripped out the country that there's nothing left. Russia deserves better than these thieves.'

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 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 Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 06:31 Rating: 5

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