U.K. Denies Russia Fired Warning Shots At Its Ship In Black Sea

The United Kingdom has denied reports that a Russian vessel fired warning shots at a British Navy ship in the Black Sea, attributing the incident to a preannounced military exercise.

Russian media on June 23 reported the country's military warned away a British warship with bombs and gunfire near Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014.

"We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior warning of their activity," Britain's Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Twitter .

"No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognize the claim that bombs were dropped in her path."

Russia's official TASS news agency reported the incident took place after the HMS Defender allegedly crossed 3 kilometers into territory in the Black Sea that Russia considers its own.

No casualties were reported in the incident.

Moscow forcibly seized Crimea in 2014 and threw its support behind pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's eastern region of Donbas, where more than 13,200 people have been killed in a conflict that continues to this day.

Western countries have imposed sanctions on Russia over the seizure of Crimea, the treatment of jailed opposition activist Aleksei Navalny, election interference and cyberattacks on U.S. infrastructure blamed on Russian hackers.

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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