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Did Russia really fire shots at a British ship?

Russia said it fired shots at a British ship. But the UK denied the report.

HMS Defender in Portsmouth, England.
HMS Defender is pictured on March 20, 2020, in Portsmouth, England. The Russian military says its warship has fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs to force the British destroyer from Russia’s waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.
Ben Mitchell, PA via AP

The Russian military said a warship in the Black Sea fired warning shots and that a warplane actually dropped bombs to push a British ship away from an area near Crimea, ABC News reports.

  • Russia claimed the area was in Russia’s territorial waters, according to Reuters.
  • Russia said a bomber “dropped four bombs ahead of the British ship’s path to persuade it to change course” and a patrol ship fired a warning shot, ABC News reports.
  • The British ship then allegedly left the waters thereafter.

However, Britain’s Ministry of Defense denied that the warning shots happened, and that any British ship was in Russian waters, Politico reports.

  • “No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender,” the ministry said in a statement, according to Politico. “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,” the British Ministry of Defense said. “No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognize the claim that bombs were dropped in her path.”

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the ship was carrying out “routine transit from Odessa towards Georgia across the Black Sea.”

  • “As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity,” he added, according to Politico.