UK warships would again be prepared to pass through disputed waters around Crimea, a cabinet minister has said, after Wednesday’s unexpected diplomatic and military clash with Russia in the Black Sea.
ジョージ・ユースティス, the environment secretary, reiterated the denial from the Ministry of Defence that no warning shots had been fired at HMS Defender by Russian vessels. Instead a “gunnery exercise” was taking place nearby, which is “not uncommon for Russians to do” in that area, 彼は言った.
Asked on Sky News if the Royal Navy would enter the waters again, he said “of course, yes”, 追加: “We never accepted the annexation of Crimea, these were Ukrainian territorial waters.”
Eustice disputed reports from a BBC journalist on board the destroyer that the Russian military had “harassed” the ship, closely following HMS Defender as it passed near Crimea with firing heard in the distance. “This was something quite different,” Eustice said.
彼が追加した: “Under international law you can take the closest, fastest route from one point to another. HMS Defender was passing through Ukrainian waters, I think on the way to Georgia, and that was the logical route for it to take.
“This is a very normal thing, it’s quite common actually … so I think it’s important people don’t get carried away.”
The warship sailed for about an hour in the morning within the 12-mile limit off Cape Fiolent on a direct route between the Ukrainian port of Odessa and Georgia. The British plan was to assert navigation rights in the Black Sea in support of Ukraine, which lost control of Crimea after Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014, an action condemned and not recognised by the west.
Although warships are permitted “innocent passage” through territorial waters as long as it is not prejudicial to the peace or security of the coastal state, the UK would have known sending a destroyer near Crimea was likely to prompt a response from the Kremlin.
Russia’s defence ministry initially claimed warning shots had been fired at HMS Defender and that one of its war planes had dropped four bombs nearby to force the destroyer to leave the area.
Andrei Kelin, Russia’s ambassador to the UK, said HMS Defender “did not respond to several warnings, at least the warnings were issued every 10 minutes” in an interview on Channel 4 ニュース, and described the warship as having “gone deep, about 3km from, or deep into, the territorial waters over there”.
The two countries routinely test each other’s defences, with Russian jets often flying close to British airspace and warships sailing through the Channel. しかしながら, incidents involving open fire are very rare.