MOSCOW (Dispatches) –
Russia has warned Britain that there will be consequences in the event of a repeat of the incident in June when a British ship crossed into Russian territorial waters near Crimea.
Moscow’s Ambassador to the UK, Andrey Kelin, called on the UK not to try the same maneuver again, suggesting that the Kremlin would not hesitate to order decisive action to protect its sovereignty.
He stressed that the Russian Navy would make it “much more difficult” if the incident happens again.
The UK naval forces rose the tensions in the Black Sea on June 23, after the British warship HMS Defender purposely breached Russian territorial waters off the Crimean coast by crossing three kilometres over the border near Cape Fiolent.
Moscow described the incident as breaking the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and summoned the British ambassador in Moscow to strongly protest what it called the British ships’ violation of its territory. However, London said the boat had passed peacefully through Ukrainian waters.
“The British warship was in the territory of the Russian Federation without warning, which has to be done at least an hour in advance. Besides, it did not observe the laws and rules of Russia, which it was obliged to do according to the Maritime Convention,” Kelin said.
The ambassador went on to explain that the incident was not an “innocent” passage, but was a demonstration that the waters belong to Ukraine, which, Kelin said “is not at all a fact of life”.
He warned London that “next time, it will be much more difficult for them”.
The ambassador’s scathing warning comes on the heels of the comments of Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Mikhail Popov who warned London more directly, saying that the country’s navy would use the “harshest methods” to “foil such actions”.
“We suggest that our opponents think long and hard about plotting such provocations and consider the capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces,” he said.