Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has come up with a new name for the HMS Defender following Wednesday’s incident.
“I propose that the Royal Navy think about renaming the ship from ‘HMS Defender’ to ‘HMS Aggressor’,” Ryabkov said, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a security conference in Moscow on Thursday.
Emphasising that those trying to test Russia’s military were “taking a great risk”, Ryabkov warned that Moscow would “repulse the aggressors” and continue to “stand guard over the inviolability of our borders and protect our territorial integrity”.
The official said that in addition to censuring Wednesday’s “provocation”, Moscow “condemns the increased activity of the armed forces of the United Kingdom, the United States and a number of other NATO countries in the immediate vicinity of our borders”.
Also on Thursday, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would be working with the UK side through diplomatic channels to address the incident, rather than involving international organisations over the situation. "You know that there were contacts with British diplomats, and therefore, of course, through diplomatic channels, Russia will do what it should in this situation," Peskov said.
Pirates of the Black Sea
On Wednesday afternoon, the Russian Defence Ministry announced that a Russian border patrol vessel fired warning shots after the HMS Defender violated Russia’s maritime borders off Crimea in the Black Sea. Along with the naval manoeuvres, a Su-24M attack aircraft carried out a mock bombing run against the British warship.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence initially denied that any incident took place or that any warning shots were fired, saying instead that its ship was carrying out “innocent passage” through the area “in accordance with international law” and that Russian forces were simply “undertaking a gunnery exercise” nearby.
Also Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry provided evidence to support its side of the story, releasing footage of a Russian Su-24M flying over and tracking the HMS Defender as a flourish of other ships and aircraft operated in its vicinity.
Footage of Russian Black Sea Fleet and Border Service of the Federal Security Service's prevention of the breach of the Russian Federation state border committed by the UK Navy destroyer «Defender» pic.twitter.com/4VnAlMjK4Y— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) June 23, 2021
Late Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova urged British authorities to get their story straight, suggesting that the UK’s MoD, the BBC and the British Embassy in Moscow all provided Russia with conflicting and contradictory accounts of the Black Sea incident.