The consulate issued a statement in response to an article published in The Scotsman newspaper on 7 March accusing a group of Russian naval vessels of “sailing through UK territorial waters at will to conduct provocative drills” near the Moray Firth.
"The Consulate General states authoritatively that this group of Russian ships en route from Murmansk to the Mediterranean had to approach the coast of Scotland owing to unfavourable weather conditions, thus exercising the right of innocent passage enshrined in international law and as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10th December 1982,” the statement reads.
“Such a distortion of facts misleads public opinion and does not help to promote good bilateral relations,” the consulate said.
The controversy broke out after The Scotsman reported that Russian support vessels were spotted off the coast of Scotland on 4 March by observers using the Marine Traffic tracking app. Although the newspaper pointed out that the vessels were “believed to have been sheltering from storms, and remained in international waters”
SNP Defence spokesperson Stewart McDonald, however, said in the same article that “the UK’s Ministry of Defence is failing Scotland, allowing Russian navy vessels sailing through our territorial waters at will to conduct provocative drills like this” and that it is “unacceptable that it takes over 24 hours for the Royal Navy to respond to threats in Scottish waters from bases on the South Coast of England." However, according to the Royal Navy, the group of Russian ships was shadowed by the Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender all along the coast of the UK.