RUSSIA has boasted it dropped bombs and fired warning shots towards a British warship – but UK defence officials deny the incident ever happened.
Moscow claimed a Russian patrol ship and warplane were scrambled after Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender crossed into its territorial waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.
Officially, the UK is playing any suggestion of a confrontation with the Russians.
The Ministry of Defence has insisted warship was simply conducting an “innocent passage” through Ukrainian waters.
But a different and more dramatic picture has been painted by a BBC news crew on board the 8,500 ton warship who say they heard shots fired.
The BBC reported that at times there were as many as 20 aircraft buzzing the warship and the sound of jets roaring overhead could be heard.
Russian media also reports a much more dramatic version of events, saying the SU-24M aircraft dropped four bombs on the course of the warship.
And a security source confirmed to the The Sun: “It’s basically pretty much as the Russians had it. We’re just not giving them the attention they crave.”
The incident is the latest clash between the West and Russia in the Black Sea, which has been the staging ground for numerous confrontations between warships and warplanes.
The drama unfolded at just few minutes before noon, when according to Putin’s defence ministry, the Type-45 crossed Russia’s maritime border near Cape Fiolent.
The 500ft cutting edge destroyer kept its course until confronted by much smaller Russian coastguard vessel.
The crew of the tiny Russian ship bellowed “if you don’t change course I’ll fire” at the massive British vessel.
The Russian vessel opened fire twice – once at 12.06pm and again at 12.08pm – before the planes were ordered in.
At 12.23pm HMS Defender then exited Russian waters.
According to Rear Admiral Chris Parry, told The Sun Online that HMS Defender represents the cutting edge of the Royal Navy’s capability.
Her primary role is anti-aircraft defence but “she can pretty much do well against warships as well”.
“This is not a ship you really want to take on if you are Russian,” he said.
“Most importantly HMS Defender has probably the best anti-aircraft systems – it can detect golf balls at a range of about 20 miles and can engage multiple targets.”
He claimed Russia’s aggression was for their own internal audiences.
“They want to say they have seen off a Royal Navy destroyer from their main fleet base in Sevastopol.
“She was being trailed by some small border patrol craft. I think at one stage HMS Defender got a bit bored with it, so came up in speed.
“The patrol boats could not actually keep up, so in indignation they fired their guns somewhere, but nowhere near the ship.
“If you add to that the Russians were conducting some form of live fire exercise, some miles away, what the Russians have done is linked all these incidents and said they’ve seen Defender off the premises.”
The Mod said confirmed that the Russians were carrying out a gunnery exercise.
HMS Defender is one of the most advanced destroyer’s of its kind in the world
HMS Defender is one of the most advanced destroyer’s of its kind in the worldCredit: EPA
But hitting back at Russian claims, it insisted: “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: “This morning, HMS Defender carried out a routine transit from Odesa towards Georgia across the Black Sea.
“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.
Moscow has summoned British officials to answer for the confrontation which comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West.
Defence sources said they believed the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the vicinity of the Type 45 destroyer – but there was no mention of dropping bombs.
The Royal Navy warship was said to be simply taking the most direct route between Ukraine and Georgia having yesterday visited Odessa.