(ConservativeHub.com) – Dramatic incidents on the high seas have taken 2021 by storm. First, a twin-hulled vessel and three fast-attack boats operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard reportedly harassed two US Coast Guard Cutters operating in the Persian Gulf on April 2. Then, on April 26, the USS Firebolt fired a series of warning shots at three Iranian fast boats. The latest round of naval drama involved two other superpowers, Russia and the United Kingdom.
Reuters reported on a potentially dangerous encounter between a British Royal Navy destroyer and a Russian coast guard vessel operating in the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea on June 23.
Russia claimed the destroyer, the HMS Defender, navigated into its coastal waters. The unnamed Russian vessel reportedly fired two warning shots about 15 minutes later. Ten minutes after that, two Russian SU-24M fighter jets allegedly dropped “four high-explosive fragmentation bombs” in the HMS Defender’s path.
A Russian spokesperson claimed the HMS Defender ignored warnings not to trespass “on the border of the Russian Federation.” However, the British Ministry of Defense disputed that claim, stating that “no warning shots” had been fired at the HMS Defender. Continuing, it said the ship was conducting operations in Ukrainian territorial waters in full compliance with international maritime law.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson echoed those remarks, stating it was “incorrect” to say the HMS Defender was operating in Russian waters or that Russian assets fired upon the destroyer.
Russia reportedly summoned Deborah Bronnert CMG, the British ambassador to Russia, for a formal rebuke of Britain’s “dangerous” maneuver in the Black Sea. Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, accused the British of telling “barefaced lies” about the incident.
Meanwhile, back in Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agencies that Russia has a choice between appealing to “common sense” and demanding respect for international norms or using bombs if those efforts proved unsuccessful. Continuing, he warned that in the future, Russia would drop bombs on ships violating its territorial waters and not in their path.
British Defence Minister Ben Wallace said the British Royal Navy always upholds international law and would not “accept unlawful interference with innocent passage.”
Moscow reportedly has taken a more confrontational approach to British vessels operating in the area along with those belonging to the United States, and to a lesser degree NATO. According to a report from The Independent, international maritime law states that vessels belonging to nations other than Black Sea powers can operate in the region for up to three weeks. Still, Russian officials have shown decreased patience with Western ships operating in waters it considers part of its backyard.
Parties on all sides hope matters don’t escalate in the region anytime soon as tensions intensify between Russia and Great Britain.
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