Russian forces reportedly fire warning shots at British destroyer in Black Sea

But the British Defense Ministry soon denied that any warning shots had been fired at the HMS Defender, adding that "The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with global law".

"The moves by warships of the US and its allies have been clearly provocative", Gerasimov said at an global security conference in Moscow organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.

However, the UK's Ministry of Defence said no Russian warning shots were fired and it did not recognise assertions that bombs were put in the vessel's path.

Russia said the incident happened near Cape Fiolent in the south of Crimea and - according to a defence ministry statement to Russian news agencies - claimed the British vessel subsequently changed course.

However, the UK's defense ministry swiftly denied the incident's occurrence.

The UK has said its the presence of HMS Defender is part of an operation that demonstrates the country's commitment to maintaining a regular Royal Navy presence in the Western Balkans.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced the "rude British provocation that defies global law", and said London's ambassador was being summoned.

The UK does not recognise Russia's claim to Crimea, in line with the global consensus that Russia's annexation of Crimea is illegal. It returned the crew and the boats the following year. Russian Federation has frequently chafed at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation warship visits to the Black Sea, casting them as destabilizing, although North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria all are on the Black Sea.

"Moscow likewise reacted politically (in its own way), first spoofing Global Positioning System signals to try and present Defender and a Dutch frigate as aggressively heading straight for the Russian Black Sea Fleet base at Sevastopol. and now claiming - as they have in the past - to have "driven" the Royal Navy away by aggressive operations", he added.

HMS Defender is a Type 45 destroyer that is part of the UK's Carrier Strike Group.

The warship was in the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa earlier this week, according to the British embassy in Ukraine.

This article was updated to correct the list of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members on the Black Sea.

Speaking before the incident, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, sharply criticized the deployment of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation warships near Russian waters. "It creates preconditions for incidents and doesn't help ease tensions in the military sphere".

In April the United States scrapped plans to deploy two of its destroyers to the Black Sea amid concerns over a build-up of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border. This is especially the case where one piece of water is claimed by more than one country. Moscow withdrew some of its forces after maneuvers, but Ukrainian officials say many of them remain.

Earlier on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia was "concerned" about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation build-up near Russian borders.

"We aren't striving for a decisive, unilateral military advantage to tip the balance of forces in our favor", Putin said.

"Russia is in a very, very hard spot right now", he said.

"Nato.is something that was born in the Cold War area", he said.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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