Russia Says U.S. Acted in Cahoots With U.K. Over Black Sea Warship

Russia has accused the U.S. of involvement in Moscow's standoff with the U.K. over a Royal Navy warship in the Black Sea.

The claim comes after Moscow said on Wednesday that it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs to deter the U.K destroyer HMS Defender.

Russia said the British vessel had entered its territorial waters as it passed Crimea. Moscow annexed the peninsula in 2014, but Crimea has not been recognized as Russian by the international community.

The U.K. Ministry of Defense disputed the Kremlin's version of events, saying "no warning shots" had been fired and no bombs had been dropped in the vessel's path. It gave the more prosaic explanation that the Russians "were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the vicinity."

The U.K. said Defender was "conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law."

This explanation has not stopped Moscow ramping up the rhetoric. In the latest salvo, foreign affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the British vessel would not have acted without the knowledge of the U.S.

She wrote in a post on Telegram that the ship was in the northwest part of the Black Sea in preparation for the U.S.-Ukrainian Sea Breeze drills, which start on Monday.

"American experts note that special ops unit of the U.S., the U.K. and Ukraine were engaged in training aboard the ship at the time of the incident," Zakharova wrote in comments reported by the state news agency Tass.

"In these conditions, it is impossible that the 'peaceful passage' of the British destroyer was not agreed with the 'big brother.,'"

Newsweek has contacted the U.S. State Department and the British Ministry of Defense for comment.

HMS Defender
The Royal Navy’s newest Type 45 Destroyer, HMS Defender sails into her new home at HM Naval Base Portsmouth for the first time today on July 25, 2012 in Portsmouth, England. HMS Defender is able to defend against multiple attacks from even the most sophisticated anti-ship missiles, approaching from any direction and at supersonic speeds. Chris Mumby/MoD Crown Copyright via Getty Images

Russia seized the initiative this week, by presenting its narrative that Moscow was facing a NATO threat in the Black Sea—and had seen it off.

Although the U.K. has stayed relatively quiet since the incident, Russia has continued with its messaging, primarily for a domestic audience, that it was under siege.

On Friday, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters there had been "malicious attempts" by officials in London and by "some representatives of the U.S. administration, to distort the essence of what happened."

"Washington continues to use the term 'disinformation' in relation to the line we are currently pursuing in the information space," he said, according to Tass.

Ryabkov added: "Disinformation is Washington's assertion that Crimea is not part of the Russian Federation. This is the most cynical, harmful disinformation of all.

"The reason for what happened is that colleagues in Washington and London do not just deny reality … they are trying through their actions to heat up the situation and, in essence, provoke a conflict."

A day earlier, the deputy foreign minister had warned against "provocative steps" that were "violating the state border of the Russian Federation."

"We can appeal to common sense," he said on Thursday, "demand international law be respected and, if this does not help, we can bomb."

Russian foreign affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
Russian foreign affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, pictured at the U.N in New York City in 2019. She has accused the U.S. of involvement in the Black Sea standoff with a British warship. Getty