Navy defending our values in Russia dispute: Johnson

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However, Johnson refused to be drawn on whether he had personally authorised the HMS Defender voyage, according to BBC report…reports Asian Lite News.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Royal Navy warship was “sticking up for our values” in an incident with Russian forces in disputed waters around Crimea, it was reported.

Johnson said the UK does not recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea and was pursuing freedom of navigation in international waters, according to BBC report.

However, the prime minister has denied the relations between UK and Russia were at an all-time low.

On Wednesday more than 20 Russian aircraft and two coastguard ships shadowed HMS Defender as it was sailing off the coast of Crimea.

Russian Defence Ministry said its Black Sea Fleet and Federal Security Service had expelled the British warship that “violated” the country’s territorial waters.

It said the British destroyer HMS Defender crossed Russia’s border in the northwestern part of the Black Sea at 11.52 a.m. on Wednesday after going 3 km beyond the sea border in the area of Cape Fiolent.

However, Johnson refused to be drawn on whether he had personally authorised the HMS Defender voyage, according to BBC report.

He said it was “wholly appropriate to use international waters” to “take the shortest route between two points and that’s what we did”.

It was “very important” countries around the world continue to carry out manoeuvres “sticking up for our values, sticking up for what we believe in,” he said on a visit to an Army barracks in Aldershot, Hampshire.

This would include “democracy, human rights, equalities and the rule of law, and freedom of navigation,” BBC quoted Johnson as saying.

The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said that the vessel ignored warnings on the possible use of weapons from the Russian side, causing a Russian border patrol ship to fire warning shots.

In a statement later on Wednesday, the British Ministry of Defence’s Press Office said that “no warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender”.

“The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law,” it said.

The Press Office further said: “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.”

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