Russia has warned it will be bomb any warships that sail too close to the Crimea after firing warning shots at a British destroyer in a dramatic stand-off in the Black Sea on Wednesday.
Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that any invading warships could be attack the next time they sail 'too close' to Crimea.
Moscow boasted that a Su-24 dropped four bombs in Britain's HMS Defender path after it refused to back down and warning shots were fired from their patrol ship, but Britain said the destroyer stayed in international waters and no shots were fired.
Two Black Sea Fleet coastguard ships continued to shadow the destroyer from 100 yards away while 20 military aircraft patrolled it from the skies as it charted its course from Odessa in Ukraine to Georgia past Crimea, which Russia has annexed but the West refuses to recognise.
The British Type 45 destroyer has been on operations in the Black Sea alongside American Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Laboon and Dutch warship HNLMS Evertsen.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The stand-off was the first time since the Cold War that Moscow acknowledged using live ammunition to deter a NATO warship, reflecting the growing risk of military incidents amid soaring tensions between Russia and the West.
After the stand-off, Sergey Ryabkov said on Thursday that in the future, Russia would fire on any intruding warships too close to the Crimea because 'the security of our country comes first'.
Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned any warships could be bombed the next time they sail too close to Crimea, after a tense stand-off in the Black Sea. A picture taken on Friday shows a ship from the Russian Black Sea Fleet (circled) shadowing USS Laboon, HMS Defender and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen
Moscow said a Su-24 dropped four bombs in Britain's HMS Defender path after warning shots were fired, but Britain said no shots were fired. Images released by the Russian defence ministry shows the SU-24s buzzing above the destroyer and lining the vessel up in its crosshairs
Russia released footage filmed from one of its Su-24M attack jets which showed HMS Defender sailing off Crimea - but not the moment it alleges shots were fired and four bombs were dropped
Issuing a stark warning, the Russian official said: 'What can we do? We can appeal to common sense, demand respect for international law.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
'If this does not help, we can bomb not only in the direction but also on target, if our colleagues do not understand.
'I warn everyone violating the state borders of the Russian Federation under the slogan of free navigation, from such provocative steps, because the security of our country comes first.'
Backing up his comments, the Kremlin said Moscow that would respond harshly to any similar actions in the future and warned against any further 'provocations'.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov continued: 'If unacceptable provocative actions are repeated, if those actions go too far, no options to legitimately protect the borders of the Russian Federation could be excluded.'
Ryabkov also warned that 'balancing on the brink of confrontation' would have 'very serious consequences' for anyone who tried to plan or carry out 'such events' as he expressed 'outrage' at the UK's behaviour.
The diplomat said: 'This is a very serious situation, we condemn the actions of the British side.'
He added: 'The territorial integrity of the Russian Federation is inviolable.
'The inviolability of its borders is an absolute imperative, and we will protect all this both through political-diplomatic and, when necessary, military methods.'
Ryabkov (pictured) also warned that 'balancing on the brink of confrontation' would have 'very serious consequences' for anyone who tried to plan or carry out 'such events' as he expressed 'outrage' at the UK's behaviour
Two Black Sea Fleet coastguard ships shadowed the Type 45 destroyer from 100 yards away while 20 military aircraft patrolled it from the skies Pictured: HMS Defender conducts close proximity sailing whilst on maritime operations in the Black Sea on June 17
Britain's prime minister met with soldiers of the new Ranger Regiment during a visit to mark Armed Forces Week, at the Aldershot Garrison in Aldershot, amid the diplomatic row
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also denounced what she called 'rude British provocation that defies international law'.
The Russian ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, described the incident as 'regrettable' and claimed HMS Defender had been two miles inside Russian territorial waters.
He told Channel 4 News: 'He did not respond to several warnings, at least the warnings were issued every 10 minutes while he was going into water, deep into the waters. And then it was stopped by means that were available.'
To underline Moscow's point, the Russian Embassy chose a picture of the Crimea as its daily post of a 'Russian' landscape.
Despite Russia's warnings, when asked if the UK Government would do it again, cabinet minister George Eustice said 'of course, yes', adding: 'We never accepted the annexation of Crimea, these were Ukrainian territorial waters.'
Earlier this month, the Russian Defense Ministry said its fleet was monitoring the movements of the US navy's Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Laboon as it continued its deployment in the Black Sea, according to Russian state media.
The National Center for Defense Management, part of the Russian Defense Ministry, said in a statement: 'The forces of the Black Sea Fleet have begun monitoring the actions of the US Navy destroyer Laboon, which entered the Black Sea on 11 June 2021.'
In Wednesday's stand-off as tensions rise, Russia claimed to have shot at Britain's HMS Defender, and to have dropped four bombs from an Su-24M warplane in waters ahead of the Royal Navy vessel.
Black Sea menace: One of two Russian patrol vessels with 30mm gun, circled, that fired heavy bursts towards the Royal Navy destroyer it was shadowing
Britain's Chair of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood (right), admitted it is a 'dangerous game' to provoke Russia and other powers by sailing in disputed waters, while Lord Alan West (left) accused Vladimir Putin of 'playing to the home audience'
Vigilance: Crew member scans sea for Russian activity on board the vessel on Tuesday when the incident occurred
But Britain has denied the Russian version, and insists HMS Defender was either in Ukrainian or international waters at all times.
Many Western countries do not accept Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea by military force as being legitimate in law.
The UK's cabinet minister George Eustice told Sky News: 'Under international law you can take the closest, fastest route from one point to another. HMS Defender was passing through Ukrainian waters, I think on the way to Georgia, and that was the logical route for it to take.
'This is a very normal thing, it's quite common actually. What was actually going on is the Russians were doing a gunnery exercise, they had given prior notice of that, they often do in that area.
'So, I think it's important people don't get carried away.'
He said while the gunner exercise was the 'official reason' given for the Russian activities, 'whether that was cover for them to try and make some point, we don't know'.
'Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn't,' he told ITV's Good Morning Britain.
Britain's ambassador Deborah Bronnert will be summoned to the Russian foreign ministry on Thursday to give account for HMS Defender's actions.
A former Royal Navy chief has also accused Vladimir Putin of 'playing to the home audience' after Moscow's bold claims of its use of force against HMS Defender.
Bear in the air: Co-pilot looks out as his Su-30 jet roars over the British warship during the close call that emerged on Tuesday
Battle stations: Officers and crew in white anti-flash balaclavas and mittens feel the pressure yesterday as they dictate naval operations from Defender's bridge
Lord Alan West, former Chief of Defence Intelligence, Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Security and Counter-Terrorism, said the Russian president's behaviour was 'appalling'.
'The bottom line is Putin is an expert at disinformation and his actions are very reckless, and we've seen that now for three or four years,' he told LBC.
'His behaviour is appalling.
'There's no doubt the (HMS) Defender was asserting her right of innocent passage from one port to another.
'Putin wants to play to his home audience, he wants to tell them 'aren't I tough, look at that, I've made Britain go away', and that's why I think they lied about firing warning shots at the defender - which they didn't do.
'As per usual, I'm afraid, Putin's organisation is lying about that.'
Lord West added that the behaviour was 'dangerous and stupid'.
'I would say it's the behaviour of a rogue state, but Russia shouldn't be a rogue state,' he said.
Meanwhile Britain's Chair of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, admitted there is a prospect of an engagement flaring up with Britain's 'dangerous game' of sailing in disputed waters.
The former Defence Secretary told BBC 4: 'There's huge scope for an accident to occur, misinterpretation, leading to an actual kinetic engagement and it could be a bit of time before somebody grabs that red phone and calms things down.'
Some footage was allegedly shot from the Su-24M which is said to have dropped four bombs to deter the Royal Navy vessel. Above: Su-24Ms seen in the Russian video
Former head of the Army General Lord Dannatt said Mr Putin is 'testing the will of the West'.
He told Sky News: 'I'm a little bit surprised that the Ministry of Defence is playing it down.
'It was unreasonable of the Russians to challenge HMS Defender in the way that they did.
'The underlying point is that there are international laws that must be upheld by everyone and HMS Defender had the absolute right to be where she was yesterday.'
It was the first time since the Cold War that Moscow acknowledged using live ammunition to deter a NATO warship, reflecting the growing risk of military incidents amid soaring tensions between Russia and the West, as Ukraine's foreign minister appealed for further NATO help.
But Britain's Foreign Secretary said: 'No shots were fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship was conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters. We were doing so in accordance with international law and the Russian characterisation is predictably inaccurate.'
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: 'These are things that come and go with Russia; disinformation, misinformation is something that we have seen regularly. We are not surprised by it, we plan for it.'
Russia released footage filmed from one of its Su-24M attack jets which showed HMS Defender sailing off Crimea - but evidently not the moment it alleges shots were fired and four bombs were dropped.
A map shows the route taken by HMS Defender during the alleged incident near the south coast of Crimea
Captain Vincent Owen said his mission was confident but non-confrontational and insisted he was maintaining course on an internationally recognised shipping lane but Mr Beale said it was a 'deliberate move to make a point to Russia'.
The Ministry of Defence and Number 10 insist the incident never happened, adding that Russia was carrying out pre-arranged exercises and Defender was conducting an 'innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters'.
Releasing the footage of HMS Defender from the air, Russian defence ministry's TV channel Zvezda said: 'In the footage can be seen the culprit of the incident, the destroyer Defender.
'It is not known at what moment the footage was shot, either before or after the warning shots which forced the ship to change course and leave the territory of the Russian Federation.'
Some footage was allegedly shot from the Su-24M which is said to have dropped four bombs to deter the Royal Navy vessel.
Other footage may have been from a military drone.
A caption said the footage showed a joint operation by the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet 'uppressing violations of the Russian state border by the British destroyer HMS Defender'.
HMS Defender is armed with missiles, an air defence system, an armed Lynx Wildcat helicoper, Westland Merlin helictopers and various naval guns. Russia's Su-24 jets are equipped with 23mm cannon, laser-guided air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles and can also carry tactical nuclear bombs
In an unusual move, Russia also released footage of Britain's defence attaché being summoned in Moscow.
Such meetings are normally private but a video was released to state media fuelling the assumption that Moscow was using the alleged incident for propaganda.
'In the wake of a violation of the Russian Federation's border by a Royal Navy destroyer, the defence attaché at the UK embassy in Moscow has been summoned to the Russian Defence Ministry,' said a statement.