Moscow stated on June 23 that its ships opened warning fire on the passage of the British destroyer “HMS Defender” off the coast of Crimea.
NATO launched the Sea Breeze naval maneuvers in the Black Sea on June 28, an operation without precedent on this occasion due to its size, which makes Russia extremely uneasy. There have already been two incidents, with a British destroyer and a Dutch frigate, and the Russian Navy, in the framework of new exercises, fired on Wednesday in a limited area of its territorial waters, adjacent to the area of action of the Alliance ships.
Spokesmen for the Russian Black Sea Fleet clarified yesterday that their training “was planned in advance and the firing area was closed to navigation.” For its part, a NATO source quoted by Echo Moscow radio warned that the western military bloc “does not intend to leave the Black Sea and will strengthen cooperation with its partners in the region”, in the current specific case with Ukraine. Although, the Black Sea has a coastline, not only with Russia, but also with NATO members such as Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. Also with Georgia, who does not hide her desire to one day belong to the Alliance. Still, Moscow has repeatedly urged NATO to stop shipping warships to the Black Sea.
On June 23, Moscow claimed that its ships opened warning fire on the passage of the British destroyer “HMS Defender” off the coast of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, for “violating” Russian territorial waters. London denied it, said it was a “peaceful” voyage in Ukrainian waters, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted that the idea of sending his destroyer there was his. The UK ambassador in Moscow had to go to the Russian Foreign Ministry to explain, where they described the incident as “provocation” and warned that next time “the ship will be destroyed.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the same on Wednesday during his marathon and traditional television session (almost four hours), answering duly filtered questions from citizens. What did they do it for? To show that they do not recognize Crimea – as Russian territory -? Well, they do not recognize it, but why provoke? “Putin said before the cameras. In his opinion, behind everything is the United States. “A US reconnaissance plane was sighted in the area,” he said.
The Russian president noted that NATO “tries to gauge Russia’s response” to such actions. However, he denied that similar incidents could lead to a Third World War, “even if we had sunk the ship. no one is going to embark on a contest that neither side can win. ‘
After what happened with the «HMS Defender», just the next day, on June 24 in front of the Kerch Strait, also in Crimea, Russian Su-24 and Su-30 fighter jets flew low over the Dutch frigate «Evertsen », Who also participates in the maneuvers and who had to turn around. The Netherlands Foreign Ministry denounced that “the Russian fighters created a dangerous situation to intimidate the Evertsen ship in the Black Sea”, which did not enter Russian waters. The Dutch Foreign Minister, Ank Bijleveld, called the actions of the Russian planes “irresponsible”, and argued that the Evertsen “had every right to sail there.”
The Sea Breeze maneuvers, which should end on July 10, have the participation of some 5,000 soldiers from more than thirty countries, Spain among them with the ship “Rayo”. They involve about 40 ships and 30 planes and the American destroyer “USS Ross” also takes part in them.