The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday that the Black Sea Fleet and the border security forces had expelled the HMS Defender destroyer that entered Russia's territorial waters. While the UK Ministry of Defense rejects Russia's account of the incident, saying it was a peaceful passage and no warning shots were fired, the BBC broadcaster published a video of the destroyer entering the Black Sea that is at odds with the official statements by London.
"They do need to explain what actually happened, because if the government tries to sort of play it down, we’ve got media reports saying that it was more to it than the government is saying, so they need to explain," Miliband told Sky News broadcaster.
A BBC correspondent who had been invited on board the ship before the incident said he saw over 20 aircraft overhead — which could also be heard in the footage — and two Russian coastguard boats that shadowed the UK vessel.
Richard Dannatt, former head of the UK Army, also told Sky News on Thursday that he was a "little bit surprised" that the UK Ministry of Defense was playing down the incident.
"No one has to assume that the HMS Defender didn’t go into those disputed waters unintentionally, so I make the assumption that this was part of its planned voyage and on that basis, it was a legitimate planned passage," Dannatt said.
On Thursday, the Commander-in-Chief of Russian Navy Adm. Nikolay Yevmenov denounced the incident with the UK navy destroyer in the Black Sea as an "audacious challenge" from London, urging it to assess the actions of its ship.
The UK ambassador in Moscow has also been summoned on Thursday to the Russian Foreign Ministry, where according to official spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, "a harsh warning will be made."