HMS Defender on anti drug operations in the Gulf 231219 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY

Kremlin Threatens 'Tough' Response If HMS Defender Incident Is Repeated

The Royal Navy warship, HMS Defender, was accused of sailing in what Moscow considers Russian territorial waters.

HMS Defender on anti drug operations in the Gulf 231219 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has warned that any further incidents of British warships sailing into what Moscow considers Russian territorial waters would demand a "tough" response. 

This follows an incident where the Royal Navy warship, HMS Defender, was shadowed by Russian vessels and buzzed by jets as it sailed through the disputed waters around Crimea.

Moscow claimed that warning shots were fired by Russian vessels at the Type 45 destroyer as it passed through the contested part of the Black Sea on 23 June – an assertion dismissed by the UK Government, which said only that a routine "gunnery exercise" took place.

Speaking on the radio in Russia, Peskov said he thought the "planned" operation of the British warship was a tool to find weaknesses in the Russian Federation's response to border violations.

He said: "In this case, the destroyer was just an instrument of provocation.

"And the President explained that this is how some bottlenecks and weaknesses are probed in the system for monitoring the integrity of the border, in the response system, and so on."

Peskov also echoed Putin's accusation that Washington and London had planned the episode together.

"Our intelligence agencies, of course, know who took that decision. But, of course, I think the essence of such operations is planned by all the same senior comrades – those over the ocean."

Speaking last week, the Russian president said: "I don't think we were on the brink of World War Three" but he threatened to "drop bombs... right on target" if Royal Navy vessels sail again through waters around Crimea.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed the actions taken by HMS Defender, saying it was "wholly appropriate to use international waters".

Cover image: Royal Navy.