MOSCOW, July 14. /TASS/. Russia will continue preventing provocations like the one with HMS Defender, regardless of the nationality of the violators, Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council Mikhail Popov said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
According to him, the incident with HMS Defender, when British sailors deliberately pursued an escalation by violating Russia’s maritime borders, "was a pre-planned provocation that was rightfully thwarted."
"Russia will continue to foil such actions using the harshest methods, regardless of the nationality of the violator. We suggest that our opponents think long and hard about plotting such provocations, and consider the capabilities of the Russian armed forces," the deputy security secretary said.
According to Popov, the reaction of high-ranking UK officials to this incident is baffling. He mentioned London’s remarks that the UK would continue to seek "freedom of navigation" with the same methods. "This implies that such provocations by British ships cannot be ruled out in the future. However, there won’t be any members of the British government on board those vessels used for provocations. In this regard, I would like to ask [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and [UK Foreign Secretary] Dominic Raab: What would they say to the families of British sailors, what would be the "great" ideas that these sailors would suffer for?" the Russian deputy security secretary argued.
Popov stressed that this is far from the first example of unfriendly actions by the West with the use of warships. In this regard, he mentioned the USS John S. McCain destroyer entering Russia’s territorial waters in November 2020, as well as the incident near Crimea’s shores in February 1988, when the Bezzavetny frigate had to bump the USS Yorktown after it entered the Soviet territorial waters.
HMS Defender episode
On June 23, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the Black Sea Fleet, acting in cooperation with the border guard force of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), stopped a violation of the state border by the destroyer HMS Defender off Crimea's Cape Fiolent. The destroyer ventured three kilometers into Russia's territorial waters. A coast guard patrol ship fired warning shots and a Sukhoi-24M bomber dropped bombs close to the destroyer. After that, the HMS Defender left Russia's territorial waters. The Russian Defense Ministry later described the British ship's actions as a gross violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and urged the British side to investigate the crew's actions.
On June 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his annual Q&A session that the incident with the British destroyer was a complex provocation conducted by both the UK and the US. The Russian leader added that the Defender pursued reconnaissance goals when entering Russia’s waters in the Black Sea.