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Russia sparks panic as armed fighter jets 'harassed' Dutch navy frigate in Black Sea

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The Russian defence ministry said it had scrambled fighter jets and bombers to prevent the frigate from entering Russian waters, according to news agencies. The Russian military said the warplanes flew at a safe distance from the vessel and in line with international regulations.

The Netherlands’ defence ministry said the Russian actions took place over the span of five hours on June 24 and violated rights to free use of the sea.

The frigate, Evertsen, was sailing with Britain’s Carrier Strike Group, including HMS Defender, which was carrying out a patrol in the area at the time.

Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten called the Russian action “irresponsible”.

She said in a statement: “The Evertsen has every right to sail there.

“There is no justification for this kind of aggressive act, which needlessly increases the chance of accidents.”

She indicated the Netherlands would raise the matter with Russia at the diplomatic level.

The Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that it had scrambled fighter jets and bombers to prevent a Dutch frigate from entering Russian waters in the Black Sea, Interfax news agency reported.

The military said the warplanes flew at a safe distance from the vessel.

The Netherlands’ defence minister said earlier on Tuesday that Russian fighter jets armed with air-to-surface missiles had harassed a Dutch navy frigate in the Black Sea earlier this month, conducting mock attacks and jamming communication systems.

 

Abour 20 planes and helicopters of the Black Sea Fleet and the Southern Military District were involved in drills in Crimea, the Black Sea Fleet press service announced on Tuesday.

A statement said: “Crews of the Black Sea Fleet planes and helicopters and an air force formation of the Southern Military District carried out training with divisions of S-400 missile systems and Panzir missile systems to test the combat readiness of the Crimean Peninsula’s alert force and air defense systems.”

The latest incident comes a week after Russia claimed HMS Defender had been forced to retreat after a Russian ship fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs in the Black Sea – with the UK denying Moscow’s version of events.

The MoD tweeted: “We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior warning of their activity.

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

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said HMS Defender “carried out a routine transit from Odessa towards Georgia across the Black Sea”.

He said: “As is normal for this route, she entered an internationally recognised traffic separation corridor. She exited that corridor safely at 0945 BST.

“As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity.”

Speaking to the Commons Defence Committee later the same day, Mr Wallace said the crew of HMS Defender did hear “training noises” to the rear of the ship, but it was “beyond visual range”.

(More to follow)



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